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Naturalist to the Government of Manitoba 

Author of 

Art Anatomy of Animals 
Wild Animals I Have Known 
The Trail of the Sandhill Stag 
The Biography of a Grizzly 
The Lives of the Hunted 
Pictures of Wild Animals 
etc., etc., etc. 

-- - -^1^.-- — 


Volume I -Grass-eaters 


Published by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, New York City :: 1909 


Published October, 1909 



by Special Permission 



The First of the Royal Family 

to Enjoy in Person 

the Game-Fields 



The red lines show the author's travels in gathering the material for this book; the dots indicate his 

actual camps or dwelling places. 


This aims to be a book of popular Natural History on 
a strictly scientific basis. In it are treated some 60 quad- 
rupeds that I have known and studied for many years. 

Although I have limited the scope to the 60 species 
that are found in Manitoba, this takes in all the large land 
mammals of the United States, except about a dozen, in- 
cluding five of the big game. Having followed these 60 
into all parts of their ranges, I have virtually included the 
Continent from Labrador to California. 

A glance at the map will show that I have had unusual 
opportunities for gathering material, having visited nearly 
every State in the Union, on trips to collect specimens or 
information. Thirty years of personal observations are 
herein set forth; every known fact bearing on the habits 
of these animals has, so far as possible, been presented, and 
everything in my power has been done to make this a 
serious, painstaking, loving attempt to penetrate the intimate 
side of the animals' lives— the side that has so long been 
overlooked, because until lately we have persistently re- 



garded wild things as mere living targets, and have seen in 
them nothing but savage or timorous creatures, killing, or 
escaping being killed, quite forgetting that they have their 
homes, their mates, their problems and their sorrows — in 
short, a home-life that is their real life, and very often much 
larger and more important than that of which our hostile 
standpoint has given us such fleeting glimpses. 

The facts in these two volumes have, for the most part, 
long been known to me, and have formed a part of my 
equipment, yet I set them forth accredited to the men who 
first observed them. I have done this, even when they 
have been covered and more than covered by my own 

Theoretically, I have treated each species under thirty 
divisional heads, but am shocked to find in how many 
cases the heading is missing, because there were no facts 
available for classification under it. No one knows better 
than I, then, how many gaps and imperfections are to be 
found herein, and in view of this I hope the critics will 
overlook the weak spots, and seek rather for the things 
that make for usefulness. 

As this is a book of Life-histories or habits, I have 
occupied myself as little as possible with anatomy, and 
have given only so much description of each animal as 
is necessary for identification. My theme is the living 

No one who believes in Evolution can doubt that man's 
mind, as well as his body, had its origin in the animals 
below him. 



Otherwise expressed, we may say that : Just as surely as 
we find among the wild animals the germs or beginnings of 
man's material make-up, so surely may we find there also 
the foundations and possibilities of what he has attained to 
in the world of mind. This thought lends new interest to 
the doings of animals in their home-life, and I have sought 
among these our lesser brethren for evidences of it— in the 
rudiments of speech, sign-language, musical sense, esthet- 
ics, amusements, home-making, social system, sanitation, 
wed-law, morals, personal and territorial property law, etc. 

As much as possible, I have kept my theories apart 
from my facts, in order that the reader may judge the 
former for himself. 


My thanks are due to the United States Biological Survey, 
Department of Agriculture, for electros of many cuts, made 
chiefly from my own drawings, ordered by the Department in 
years gone by ; to Dr. C. Hart Merriam for the identification 
of many specimens and much assistance; also to Mr. Edward 
A. Preble for a critical reading of parts of the text. 

To Messrs. Vernon Bailey, W. H. Osgood, H. W. Hen- 
shaw, T. S. Palmer, M.D., all of the United States Biological 
Survey, for assistance in many technical matters. 

To Dr. Robert Bell I am indebted for essential aid in 
preparing the geological sketch of Manitoba; to Professor 
John Macoun and Mr. James M. Macoun, for many notes 
and other assistance; also to Messrs. George M. Dawson, 
A. P. Low, Percy H. Selwyn, all of the Canadian Geological 

To Dr. J. A. Allen, of the American Museum of Natural 
History, New York, for help especially in preparing the chapter 
on Faunal Areas; to Mr. Frank M. Chapman for advice and 
for help in many identifications, and to the American Museum 
of Natural History for access to their collections and library, 
etc., while preparing the technical descriptions. 

To Dr. W. T. Hornaday, of the New York Zoological 
Society, for practical assistance in preparing parts of the text. 

To Mr. Miller Christy, of Chelmsford, England, for 
several notes and much literary assistance. 

To Mr. George O. Shields for assistance in securing several 
of my own drawings originally used in Recreation Magazine. 

X Acknowledgments 

To Mr. D. A. Boscowitz, of Victoria, B. C, for the official 
Reports on London Fur-sales. 

To the Right Honourable Lord Strathcona and Mont- 
royal, G.C.M.G., Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 
for access to the Company's records covering the fur 
returns of the last fifteen years, with permission to use the 

To Mrs. Grace G. Seton for essential aid with the literary 
and press work. 

To Professor Robert M. Yerkes, of Harvard University. 

To Mr. William Brewster, of Cambridge, Mass. 

To Major E. A. Mearns, M.D., U.S.A., for revision of 

To the Field Museum of Chicago for the loan of 

To the Zoological Society of London for free use of their 
superb library and its equipment. 

To Mr. Henry M. Ami, of the Geological Ottawa, for 
assistance with the French Canadian names of the animals. 

In collecting the Indian names, although I consulted many 
natives, the following were my principal informants: 

O/V^u/a.^Ah-nee-mee'-kong (Little Thunder), a full-blood 
whom I met at Lake of the Woods, Albert Chief, a half-breed 
of Kenora, acting as interpreter. 

Sauteaux. — Baptiste Nee'-pee-nak (Summer Bear), a full- 
blood at Winnipegosis, Mr. J. J. G. Rosser acting as inter- 
preter, besides giving additional information. 

Cree. — Mr. W. G. Tweddell, of Woonona, Manitoba, and, 
in part, Mr. Hector MacKenzie, of Winnipeg. 

Muskego. — Swampy or Wood Cree. Isadore Nee'-ah-poo, 
a full-blood living at Winnipegosis, Mr. J. J. G. Rosser acting 
as interpreter, and adding many items of information. 

Acknowledgments xi 

C hi pewyan. —Weeso (Louison d'Noire), a Fort Resolu- 
tion Chipewyan who went with me to the Barren Grounds 
in 1907. 

Tankton Sioux. — Mr. C. C. Chipman, Commissioner of 
the Hudson's Bay Company at Winnipeg. 

Ogallala Sioux. — Dr. James R.Walker, resident physician 
of the Pine Ridge Indian Agency, S. D. 

I am also in debt for valuable notes to the following 
residents of Winnipeg, Messrs.: 

E. W. Darbey, William R. Hine, 

J. P. Turner, Roderick McFarlane, 

H. Whellams, E. W. Wilson, 

Ashley Hine, Alexander Calder, 

J. McLean, J. Shaw Cottingham, 

J. K. MacDonald, S. J. Thompson, L.V.S., 

Gordon Bell, M.D., George Bryce, D.D., 

C. C. Chipman, H. B. Co. Commissioner. 

To The Honourable Senator J. Nesbitt Kirchhoffer, of 
Brandon, Man., and to Messrs.: 

A. S. Barton, Boissevain, Man., 
H. M. Speechly, M.D., Pilot Mound, Man., 
W. J. C. Tomalin, M.D., Deloraine, Man., 
H. C. Nead, Dauphin, Man., 

C. C. Helliwell, Brandon, Man., 
H. W. O. Boger, Brandon, Man., 

D. Nicholson, Morden, Man., 

John S. Charleson, MacDonald, Man. 

Other assistance is acknowledged in the context. 

E. T. S. 













MAPS xxix 


A Sketch of the Physical Features of Mani- 
toba 3 

The Faunal Areas and Life-zones of 

Canada ii 

The General Plan of Treatment for each 

Species 22 



xiv Contents 



TITLE PAGE . . . , o . . 1 




MAPS xi 





Class ^ajUjiaoa. 

(Comprising all backboned air-breathing creatures whose 
young are born alive (except the Australian Monotremes) 
and suck milk.) 


i^oofeti Bea0t0— OrUer ^Ungulata. 

(Which includes all hoofed mammals; these are mostly of large 

DEER FAMILY or Cervida— 

I. Wapiti or Canadian Elk, Cervus canadensis 

Erxleben. p. sj 

II. Northern Whitetailed Deer, Odocoileus virgin- 

ianus borealis Miller. p. 68 

III. Blacktailed Mule-deer, Odocoileus hemionus 

(Rafinesque). p- 114 

IV. Moose, Alces americanus Jardine. p. 144 

V. Woodland Caribou, Rangifer caribou (Gmelin). 

p. 187 

locapridce — 

VI. Pronghorned Antelope, Antilocapra americana 
(Ord). P' 20Q 

xvi A List of the Species Herein Treated 


Vn. American Bison or Buffalo, Bison bison 
(Linnaeus). p. 247 

laotients— Order dSlires. 

Nearly all the animals of this order are of small size. 
Their most obvious general character is in the teeth; they have 
no canines, and but two incisors in each jaw (except in the Rab- 
bits, which have four incisors in the upper jaw) ; these are chisel- 
edged, have persistent pulps, and are separated from the 
grinders by a wide, vacant space. 


VIII. Common Red-squirrel, Sciurus hudsonicus 

Erxleben. p. 307 

IX. Big or Eastern Chipmunk, Tamias striatus 

griseus Mearns. p. 337 

X. Little Chipmunk, Eutamias quadnvtttatus neg- 

lectus (Allen). p. 364 

XL Franklin Ground-squirrel, Citellus frankUni 

(Sabine). p. 372 

XII. Richardson Ground-squirrel, Citellus richard- 

soni (Sabine). p. 380 

XIII. Striped Ground-squirrel, Citellus tridecem- 

lineatus (Mitchill). p. 394 

XIV. Canada "Woodchuck, Marmota monax cana- 

densis (Erxleben). p. 416 

XV. Northern Flying- squirrel, Sciuropterus sa- 

brinus (Shaw). p. 437 

BEAVER FAMILY or Castonda— 

XVI. Canadian Beaver, Castor canadensis Kuhl. 

P- 447 

A List of the Species Herein Treated xvii 


XVII. Common House-mouse, Mus musculus Linn. 

p. 480 
XVIII. Grasshopper-mouse, Onychomys leucogaster 
(Wied). p. ^83 

XIX. Arctic Deermouse, Peromyscus maniculatus arc- 
ticus (Mearns). p. j.00 

XlXa. Prairie Deermouse, Peromyscus maniculatus 
bairdi (Hoy and Kennicott). p. 499 

XIX^. Nebraska Deermouse, Peromyscus maniculatus 
nehrascensis (IMearns). p. 505 

XX. Canadian Red-backed Vole, Evotomys gap- 
pert (Vigors). p. 506 
XXa. Prairie Red-backed Vole, Evotomys gapperi 
loringi Bailey. p. 513 
XXI. Drummond Vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus drum- 
mondi (Audubon and Bachman). p. 515 
XXII. Little Vole, Microtus minor (Merriam). p. 533 

XXIII. Muskrat, Fiber zibethicus (Linnaeus). p. 538 

XXIV. Bog-lemming, Synaptomys borealis (Richardson). 


GOPHER FAMILY or Geomyidce— 

XXV. Gray-gopher, Thomomys talpoides (Richardson). 

p. 561 

JERBOA FAMILY or Dtpodidce— 

XXVI. Jumping-mouse, Zapus hudsonius (Zimmer- 

mann). p- 587 

XXVIa. Prairie Jumping-mouse, Zapus hudsonius cam- 

pestris Preble. p. 604 

PORCUPINE FAMILY or Erethizontidce— 

XXVII. Canada Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum 
(Linnaeus). p- 605 

xviii A List of the Species Herein Treated 
HARE FAMILY or Lepondcs— 

XXVIII. Snowshoe-rabbit or White-rabbit, Lepus 

americanus phcsonotus Allen. p. 621 

XXVIIIa. Turtle Mountain Snowshoe-rabbit, Lepus 

americanus hishopi Allen. p. 653 

XXIX. Prairie-hare, Lepus campestris Bachman. p. 654 


jFlesi) eaters^— €>rDer Carnitoora. 

Mostly large animals (except the Weasels) ; all (our spe- 
cies) have six small incisors in each jaw; four large canine 
teeth, and the premolars developed, not to grind, but to cut 
like shears. 

CAT FAMILY or Felidcs— 

XXX. Canada Lynx, Lynx canadensis Kerr. p. 677 

DOG FAMILY or CamdcB— 

XXXI. KXt-io-x, ov S^ih^Vulpesvelox (Say). />. 700 

XXXII. Royal Fox, Vulpes regalis Merriam. p. 706 

XXXIII. Gray-wolf or Buffalo-wolf, Canis occidentalis 

Richardson. p. 749 

XXXIV. Coyote or Prairie-wolf, Cams latrans Say. 

p. 789 

WEASEL FAMILY or Mustelidce— 

XXXV. Canada Otter, Lutra canadensis (Schreber). 

XXXVI. Short-tailed Weasel, Putonus cicognanu (Bona- 
parte), p. 840 
XXXVII. Least Weasel, Putorius rixosus Bangs, p. 858 

A List of the Species Herein Treated xix 

XXXVIII. Long-tailed Weasel, Putonus longicauda 

(Bonaparte). p. 86^ 

XXXIX. Mink, Putorius vison (Schreber). p, 872 

XL. Saskatchewan or Spruce Marten, Mustela 

americana ahieticola Preble. p. 001 

XLI. Pekan or Fisher, Mustela pennanti Erxleben. 

p. 926 
XLII. Wolverine, Gulo luscus (Linnaeus). p. 945 

XLIII. Prairie Skunk, Mephitis hudsonica Richardson. 

p. 966 
XLIV. Common Badger, Taxidea taxus (Schreber). 

P' 995 
RACCOON FAMILY or Procyomda— 

XLV. Raccoon, Procyon lotor (Linnaeus). p. loio 

BEAR FAMILY or t/rjzW^— 

XLVI. Grizzly-bear, Ursus horrihiUs Ord. p. 1030 

XLVII. Blackbear, Ursus americanus Pallas. p. 1052 

10U5 eaters — €)rtjer 3nsecti\)ora. 

These (the Canadian species) are small mouse-like crea- 
tures, but usually seem to have neither eyes nor ears; their 
teeth are remarkably different from those of rodents, as they 
are sharp-pointed and close set without any vacant interspace, 
and most of them are tipped with dark brown. 

SHREW FAMILY or Soricidcs— 
XL VIII. Cooper Shrew, Sorex personatus I. Geoffrey 
St. Hilaire. p- 1091 

XLIX. Richardson Shrew, Sorex richardsoni Bach- 
man. P- 1 106 
L. Hoy Shrew, Microsorex hoyi (Baird). p. 1109 

XX A List of the Species Herein Treated 

LI. Marsh-shrew, Neosorex palustns (Richardson). 

p. III2 
LII. Mole-shrew, Blarina brevicauda (Say). p. Ill6 

MOLE FAMILY or Talpidce— 

LIII. Star-nosed Mole, Condylura cristata (Linnaeus). 

2l5at0— €)rtier Cljiroptera. 

Known at once by their skin or membranous wings 
and their power of flight. In character their teeth are be- 
tween those of Carnivora and Insectivora. 

WEB-TAILED BAT FAMILY or VesperttUomdcs— 

LIV. Little Brown-bat, Myotis lucifugus (Le Conte). 

p. 1 147 
LV. Say Bat, Myotis subulatus (Say). p. 1163 

LVI. Silver-haired Bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans (Le 

Conte). p. 1 1 66 

LVII. House-bat or Big Brown-bat, Eptesicus fuscus 

(Beauvois). p. iijj 

LVIII. Red-bat, Lasiurus horealis (Mullet). p. 1183 

LIX. Hoary-bat, Lfljzz/rw J c/n^r^wj (Beauvois). p. 1191 













I.— SKETCH FOR BUGLING ELK .... Frontispiece 




IV.— TRACKS OF Bull, Cow and Calf Elk in Snow . . 50 


VI.— Mule-Deer fawn 114 

VII.— Moose Family in Early Winter 144 


IX.— Bull and cow Moose Tracks in about One Inch of 

Snow 178 

X.— Woodland Caribou, Male and Female . . .187 

XI.— Reindeer Half-Shed— Horns in Velvet . . .196 

XII.— Sketches of a Maine Caribou 196 





XVI.— The Same Antelope with Discs Half Spread . . 225 
XVII.— Sketch of a Young Antelope "Laying low" . . 225 


XIX.— Young Antelope, from Life .241 

XX.— ANTELOPE Approaching to attack 244 



XXIII.— BUFFALO HERD , , . . 260 













PLATE XXXIIL— Eastern chipmunk (<i life size) . 

Plate XXXIV.— Franklin ground-squirrel (about ♦ life size\ 

. 285 

. 285 

. 290 


• 295 
. 300 

• 337 

• 372 

Plate XXXV.— The Richardson ground-squirrel (about f life 

SIZE) 380 






XLI.— THE Lynx Making a Mistake 614 

XLII.— Snowshoe-Rabbit in Summer Coat . .621 




XLIIL— Snowshoe-Rabbits 624 

XLIV.— Photograph of Snowshoe-Rabbit (from New Hamp- 
shire) 628 

XLV.— Scatology of Certain rodents 652 

XLVL— Prairie-Hare 654 


Fig. I.— Diagram showing the relationship of the Zones and Faunas of 
the Temperate Region 

Fig. 2. — The antlers of one Wapiti 

Fig. 3.— The A. L. TuUoch twenty-point Wapiti head 

Fig. 4. — The Wyoming Wapiti head . 

Fig. 5. — S. N. Leek — Eigh teen-point Wapiti head 

Fig. 6. — Montana Armory Wapiti head 

Fig. 7. — Fifteen-point Wapiti head 

Fig. 8. — Cow Elk with horns, in Jardin des Plantes 

Fig. 9. — Wapiti head — George A. Clark 

Fig. 10. — Wapiti head — Carter Collection 

Fig. II. — Three-horned Manitoba Wapiti head 

Fig. 12.— Wapiti head— Carter Collection 

Fig. 13. — Wapiti head — Colorado, 1900. W. McFadden 

Fig. 14. — The W. W. Hart twenty-eight point Wapiti head 

Fig. 15. — Left hind-legs of (i) Mule-deer, (2) Coast Deer and (3) Whitetail 

Fig. 16. — Typical antlers of (i) Whitetail and of (2) Mule-deer 

Fig. 17. — The tails and discs of various Deer 

Fig. 18. — Deer horn embedded in oak .... 

Fig. 19. — Antler of Virginia Deer embedded in tree trunk 

Fig. 20. — Whitetail Buck with remarkable palmations 

Fig. 21. — Antler gnawed by Porcupine 

Fig. 22. — Abnormal antlers of Whitetail 

Fig. 23. — Seventy-eight-point Whitetail killed in Texas 

Fig. 24. — Forty-two-point Adirondack buck . 

Fig. 25.— Thirty-five-point Whitetail from Minnesota . 

Fig. 26. — Three-horned Whitetail 

Fig. 27. — Quebec Whitetail 

Fig. 28. — Minnesota Whitetail 

Fig. 29.— Two Whitetail bucks with locked horns 



xxiv Full-Page and Other Illustrations 













, — The snag ........ 

, — Sheep tracks, front and hind, different sized sheep 

, — Hind-foot of Whitetail buck at full speed. Track of right fore-foot 

. — Right feet of pig 

. — Doe track ...... 

—Tracks of Whitetail .... 

, — The Bonnechere head — Whitetail Deer . 

, — Typical Tails of Deer .... 

— A remarkable Wyoming Mule-deer head 

— Mule-deer freak antlers 

, — A thirty-two-point Mule-deer head 

, — British Columbia Mule-deer head . 

, — Mule-deer antlers collected by G. M. Fear at Banff 

— A three-antlered Mule-deer head . 

— Mule-deer antlers from Vernon, B. C. 

— A twenty-nine-pointer — Mule-deer head 

— Antler of emasculated buck . 

— Mule-deer head taken near Meeker, Colo., by John Marshall 

— Mule-deer head taken in Routt Co., Colo., by W. R. McFadden 

— Mule-deer head from Swan River, Man. .... 

— Mule-deer head taken at Banff, Alta., by T. Wilson . 

— Mule-deer head taken near Meeker, Colo. .... 

— A, The snag. B, The cap formed over the end by the ribs. C 
The Deer, showing course of snag 

— Blacktail track .... 

— Track of Mule Blacktail 

— Head of young buck 

— Earliest known drawing of a Moose 

— The 68J-inch New Brunswick Moose, taken by Dr. W. L. Munro 

— Freak head of Moose from Manitoba ..... 

— Abnormal antlers of three-year-old Moose shot at Lake Winnipeg 

— Moose antlers in the Museum of the Canadian Geological Survey 
Ottawa ..... 

— Moose antlers from the Upper Ottawa 

— Moose antlers from Manitoba .... 

— Moose antlers from Manitoba .... 

— Sixty-seven-inch Moose head from New Brunswick 

— Sixty-four-inch Moose head from St. Louis County, Minn. 































Full-Page and Other Illustrations 

66. — Winnipeg Moose head .... 

67. — Moose antlers, showing successive growths 

68. — Spikes of a Maine Moose 

69. — Ottawa Moose head .... 

70. — Moose head from Manitoba. Prime of life 

71.— Field Museum Moose head from Alaska 

72.— Alaskan Moose antlers, 74^ inches (formerly 76 inches) 

73-— A 73j-inch Moose head from Alaska .... 

74. — Locked Moose antlers found in Algonkin Park, Ontario 

75- — Unusual Moose bell, 18 inches long exclusive of hair . 

76. — Cow Moose bell, 38 inches long 

77-— Diagram of Moose bell, from old bull in about tenth year 

78.— Cottontail Rabbit with bell Hke that of a Moose 

79. — Why Moose horns are so seldom found 

80. — Xanana Caribou head . 

, Ontario 

81. — Horns of Mountain Caribou from the type specimen in Canadian 
Geological Survey Museum ...... 

82. — Fifty-seven-point Caribou head from Kenai Peninsula. 

83. — Thirty-nine-point Caribou head ...... 

84. — Antlers of female Woodland Caribou from Lake Winnipeg . 

85. — Antlers of female Caribou, each about ten inches long 

86. — Caribou antlers— A remarkable set in the collection of W. F. White 
of Winnipeg, said to be from Lake Winnipeg . 

87. — Antlers of Woodland Caribou (male) from Rat Portage, 

88. — Right hind-foot of Newfoundland Caribou . 

89. — Tracks of Woodland Caribou on Athabaska River 

90. — Sketches of Norway Reindeer .... 

91. — Sketches of Norway Reindeer .... 

92. — Prehistoric drawing of Reindeer from Kesserloch Cave, Switzer- 
land ......... 

93. — An Antelope pose ....... 

94. — Antelope poses ....... 

95. — Antelope poses ....... 

96. — Tracks of large Antelope 

97. — Diagram of buck Antelope's horns in his four successive 

98. — Antelope with drooping horns .... 

99. — Skin of crupper-discs ...... 

100. — Earliest known picture of American Buffalo 








xxvi Full-Page and Other Illustrations 

Fig. loi. — Series of Buffalo horns ..... 

Fig. I02. — Freak horn from Saskatchewan .... 

Fig. 103. — Freak Buffalo horn found on the Black Plateau 

Fig. 104. — Cattalo cow in herd of Buffalo Jones 

Fig. 105.— The big bull collected by Dr. W. T. Homaday . 

Fig. 106. — Cattalo yearling in herd of Buffalo Jones . 

Fig. 107. — A story of the plains ...... 

Fig. 108.— Right hind-paw, Red-squirrel .... 

Fig. 109. — Right fore-paw, Red-squirrel .... 

Fig. no. — Track of left hind-paw. Red-squirrel . 

Fig. III. — Showing the four nerve bristles on under side of Red-squirrel, with 
tufts of same on fore-legs, cheeks, etc. . 

Fig. 112. — Red-squirrel tracks in snow ..... 

Fig. 113. — Red-squirrels in life ....... 

Fig. 114. — Mushroom eaten by Red-squirrel, Bitter-root Mts., Idaho 

Fig. 115. — The Red-squirrel's playground, in a snowdrift . 

Fig. 116. — Opening of a Red-squirrel's snow-tunnel 

Fig. 117. — Poses, etc., of Common Chipmunk [T. ilrialu>' . 

Fig. 118. — Little Chipmunk Eulamias neglectui) .... 

Fig. 119. — Tracks of the Little Chipmunk ..... 

Fig. 120. — Burrow of Richardson Ground-squirrel, Whitewater, Manitoba 

Fig. 121. — Runs of Richardson Ground-squirrel leading to a grain-field 
Carberry, Man. ....... 

Fig. 122. — Striped Spermophile's playground, Manitoba 

Fig. 123. — Burrow of Striped Ground-squirrel .... 

Fig. 124. — The larva of Cuterebra, secured at Carberry, Man. . 

Fig. 125. — Plans of Woodchuck burrows ..... 

Fig. 126. — Woodchuck — Tracks and paws. (M. monax canadensis) 

Fig. 127. — Diagrams of tails of the five races of Canadian Beaver 

Fig. 128. — Section of dam showing mud face up stream 

Fig. 129. — The Yancey Beaver Ponds, Yellowstone Park 

Fig. 130. — Views of the Yancey Beaver Ponds, Yellowstone Park 

Fig. 131. — Three remarkable Beaver canals. .... 

Fig. 132. — Plan of a Beaver burrow ...... 

Fig- 133- — Ground-plan of a bank-lodge 

Fig. 134. — Ground-plan of a more elaborate bank-lodge 

F>g- 135' — The largest chip I saw at the Yancey Ponds 







Full-Page and Other Illustrations 













36. — A 5-inch aspen just fallen 

37. — Succession of attitudes in diving 

38.— Feet of adult male Beaver (left side), taken near Fort Resolution 
M. T 

39- — Life sketches of Beavers at work .... 

40.— Left upper molars of genus Pewmyscus. Left upper molars of 
genus Mus. (Both greatly enlarged) 

41- — The diseased Mouse and one of its parasites 

42. — Skull and teeth of Onychomys leucogasler (Wied) . 

43- — Tracks of Grasshopper-mouse, or Calling-mouse, going towards 
right, Yellowstone Park 

44.— Left upper molars of genus Pewmyscus. Left upper molars of 
genus Mus. (Both greatly enlarged) .... 

45- — Head of Deermouse showing the cheek pouches distended 

46. — Tracks of Deermouse. (Running to left) .... 

47. — Nest of Prairie Deermouse, Carberry, Man. 

48. — Meadow-mouse Microlus pennsylvanicus (Ord.) 

49. — Molar enamel-pattern of Microtus pennsylvanicus 

50. — Right hind-foot of Driunmond Vole ..... 

51. — Midden-heap of Microtus drummondi, with 2 back doors con 
tributory .......... 

52. — Midden-heap of Microtus pennsylvanicus, with 6 back doors con 
tributory .......... 

S3. — Mastology of: Evotomys athabascae; Microtus drummondi; Peromyscus 
arcticus ......... 

54. — Molar enamel-pattern of Microtus {Pedomys) austerus 

55. — Log that was a favourite landing-place and news-depot of the 
Muskrats on a small stream 40 miles east of Kippewa, Que 
With illustrations of their scatology 

56. — Sketch and plan of a Muskrat den at Cos Cob, Conn. 

57. — Section of the simplest style of den made by Muskrat, Cos 
Conn. ......... 

58. — A large rat-house sketched at Lake Winnipegosis. As seen 
above, and in plan ....... 

59. — Tracks of Muskrat ....... 

60. — Muskrat foot with the tiny hoofs .... 

61. — Right fore-paw and hind-foot of T. fossor i{ 

62. — Life studies of Thomomys lalpoides. .... 

63. — Composite plant. (Food of Thomomys) 














xxviii Full-Page and Other Illustrations 


Fig. 164. — Pocket-gopher. Attitudes in burrowing; the same animal in 

different poses 569 

Fig. 165. — Burrow of T. talpoides 57° 

Fig. 166. — Burrow of talpoides, Carberry, Man 573 

Fig. 167. — Typical residential burrow of a Thomomys ..... 574 

Fig. 168. — Prairie sections made at Carberry, Man., to illustrate the num- 
ber of Gopher burrows near the surface ..... 576 

Fig. 169. — Snow-tunnels of Pocket-gopher 577 

Fig. 170. — Work of monlkola, near Lake Tahoe, California .... 582 

Fig. 171. — Gopher work in Colorado, on a space 24 feet square . . 583 

Fig. 172. — Skull of Zapus hudsonius ........ 587 

Fig. 173. — Quill from back of Porcupine magnified 14 diameters . 615 

Fig. 174. — Feet of Hares, half life-size 626 

Fig. 175. — Tracks of the Snowshoe-rabbit ....... 634 

Fig. 176. — Snowshoe-rabbit — poses from life. ...... 638 

Fig. 177. — Feet of Prairie-hare ......... 659 

Fig. 178. — Life-studies of Prairie-hare, made chiefly in Wyndygoul Park . 662 

Fig. 179. — Tracks of the Prairie-hare ........ 666 

Fig. 180. — Lines to illustrate the actions of Whitetail and Blacktail Jack- 
rabbits running ......... 667 

Fig. 181. — Prairie-hare with horns, each about 3 inches long . . . 671 

Fig. 182. — Tail-pieces of four species 673 


__ „ PAGE 

MAP I.— Manitoba, showing forests and Prairies in 1905 . . 5 

Map 2.— The Glacial Lake Agassiz •-..... 6 

Map 3.— Faunal Areas of North America (exclusive of the Tropics) . 18 

Map 4.— Distribution of Wapiti or Elk in 1500 and in 1900 . . 43 

Map 5.— range of the north American Whitet ailed Deer . . 75 

Map 6.— Primitive Range of the Mule Blackt ail and its Five Races. 119 

Map 7. — Primitive Range of the moose igi 

Map 8.— Range of the Caribou 189 

Map 9.— Range of the Pronghorned Antelope and Its Two Races . 213 

Map 10. — Range of the American Buffalo 255 

Map II.— Forest Plains and Prairies of North America (exclusive 

of mexico) 257 

Map 12. — Buffalo Migration According to Professor hind's Record . 264 

Map 13.— Range of the North American Red-Squirrels . . . 309 

Map 14. — Distribution of the Eastern Chipmunk in Manitoba . . 339 

Map 15. — Range of the common Chipmunk and Its Four Races . 340 

Map 16.— Distribution of the little Chipmunk in Manitoba . . 367 

Map 17.— Range of the Small Chipmunks Found in British North 

America 368 

Map 18. — Distribution of the Franklin Ground-Souirrel in Mani- 
toba (PROVISIONAL) 373 

Map 19.— Range of the Franklin and Richardson Ground-squirrels . 374 

Map 20. — Distribution of the Richardson Ground-Squirrel in Mani- 
toba 381 

Map 21.— Range of the Striped Ground-Squirrel and its Seven 

Races 395 

Map 22.— Distribution of the Woodchuck in Manitoba, so far as 

Ascertained 418 

Map 23.— Range of the Woodchucks of north America . .. . 419 



Map 24. 
Map 25. 
Map 26. 
Map 27. 

Map 28. 
Map 29. 
Map 30. 
Map 31. 
Map 32. 
MAP 33. 
Map 34, 
MAP 35. 
Map 36. 
Map 37. 
Map 38. 







-Range of Red-Backed Voles of the Genus Evotomys 

-Range of the Large meadow-Mice 

-Range of the Little vole and Its Near kin 

-range of the muskrats 

-Range of the bog-Lemmings 

-range of the pocket-gophers .... 
-range of the pocket-gopher in manitoba . 
-Range of the American Jumping-Mice . 
-range of the north american porcupines . 
-Range of the Snowshoe-Rabbit and Its Races 








A Sketch of the Physical Features of Manitoba. 

Manitoba lies between 49° and 52° 50' North Lati- 
tude; and between 95° 15' and nearly 191° 30' West 
Longitude. It is 47 Townships wide (=282 miles) by 44 
Townships high (=264 miles), and has a total area of 74,448 
square miles. 


The Laurentian system, which constitutes the largest part 
of the Archaean or fundamental crystalline series, includes the 
oldest rocks of the earth's crust. They are divided into older 
and newer parts. The north-eastern quarter of North America, 
including Greenland and most of the larger islands in that 
direction, consists of the older or primitive gneiss series, of 
Lower Laurentian age; but the newer Laurentian is also 
represented in Baffin-land and in eastern Labrador. Most 
of this immense Laurentian area is not greatly elevated, the 
general surface constituting a pene-plain with a mammillated 

In north-eastern Labrador and throughout the great island 
of Baffin-land, more than 1,000 miles in length, the same rocks 
form mountain ridges from 3,000 to 8,000 feet in height, the 
higher parts of which are not glaciated Hke the extensive 
Laurentian pene-plains just described. 

The Huronian system, consisting of older and newer 
divisions, constitute the upper portion of the Archaean rocks. 
This is the great metalliferous series of the Dominion. Be- 
tween it and the Laurentian, a volcanic group to which the 
name Kiwaitin ("Keewatin") has been given, is generally, but 
not always, found. 

' For a revision of this chapter I am indebted to Dr. Robert Bell, of the Canadian 
Geological Survey. 


4 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In Manitoba the Laurentian area lies to the eastward of 
Lake Winnipeg and the prairies of the Red River Valley, and 
its rocks belong to the lower division, or that of the primitive 
gneiss. They extend eastward a long distance toward Hud- 
son Bay. In St. Martin's Lake some small islands consist 
of gneiss, and the same rock has been found, by boring, to 
underlie the horizontal sedimentary rocks to the southward of 
Lake Manitoba. The Archaean rocks probably underlie 
these strata throughout Manitoba, their depth from the surface 
increasing to the south and west. 

The Laurentian rocks of the province are immediately 
overlaid to the westward by unaltered and almost horizontal 
beds of the Ordivician or Cambro-Silurian system. Along 
the west side of Lake Winnipeg these consist of sandstones at 
the bottom, overlaid by impure magncsian limestones. Thick- 
bedded mottled yellowish-gray magnesian limestones of the 
same horizon are found at East and West Selkirk. At Stoney 
Mountain fossiliferous limestones occur which are somewhat 
higher in the series. 

Above the Ordivician rocks, the Devonian system is 
represented on both sides of Lakes Manitnha and W innipegosis 
by limestones which are much less magnesian than those of 
that series. Rocks belonging to nnc or the other of the two 
systems just mentioned are believed to underlie most of the 
Red River Valley in Manitoba. At Burnside a boring made 
by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in 1874 showed 
the Devonian at that locality to be King directly upon Lauren- 
tian gneiss. 

On the second prairie lc\cl, that is, all the Assiniboine 
prairies west of the escarpment of Pembina, Riding, and Duck 
Mountain, the Devonian is overlaid by a series of Cretaceous 
shales that are exposed at many points along the river valleys, 
as well as on the eastern front of the above-named escarpment. 

On Turtle Mountain we find the Laramie limestones be- 
tween the Cretaceous shales and the surface deposits or drift. 

The drift is composed of boulder clay, overlaid in places 
with lake-bottom clay or sometimes delta sand. The clav and 


Also the places mentioned in this work. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

other surface materials have In most parts of our province 
been worked up by plant and animal agencies, into a layer of 
rich black mould. The important part played in this by the 
Pocket-gopher is duly set forth in the chapter devoted to that 

The Steppes of the Prairie. 

The first or lowest Prairie Steppe embraces all the Red 
River Valley proper. It slopes from 710 feet above the sea at 
Lake Winnipeg to nearly 1,000 feet in Minnesota. This is 



The Scjuare shows present Boundries of 

Map 2 — The Glacial Lake Agassiz. 
Redrawn from sketch in Dr. George Bryce's paper. See foot-note 2, opposite. 

really the floor of the old Lake Agassiz, whose waters, impris- 
oned by a great glacier to the northward, or by some other 
cause, flooded the region and overflowed southward into the 
Mississippi at Lake Traverse. Its western bank is the 
escarpment known as Pembina, Riding, Duck, and Porcupine 
Mountains. It receded by degrees owing to relative changes 
of elevation in the land; or, as some suppose, with the melting 

Introduction 7 

of an ice-barrier. Records of the levels are found in at least 
seventeen different beaches. 

This lake was there so recently — 5,000 to 7,000 years ago, 
it is estimated^ — that the land it once covered is yet unfurrowed 
by erosion, and the rivers that cross its bed have not had time 
to scoop out valleys for themselves. 

Stoney Mountain, rising eighty feet above the plain, is a 
mass of Hudson River (Silurian) limestone that escaped part 
of the erosion of the glaciers, and stands in its original posi- 
tion a monument of former levels and formations. 

Bird's Hill, north-east of Winnipeg, an accumulation of 
gravel and sand, is now believed to be an **osar," that is, 
either a glacial river-delta or the slack-water dump where two 
glacial rivers joined. 

The long gravel ridges formed in various parts of the 
First Prairie Steppe are the ancient beaches of Lake Agassiz 
at its different levels. The highest of these is to be seen on the 
Pembina Mountain, between Morden and Thornhill. Each 
of these beaches has an upward slope to the northward of about 
one foot to the mile, showing a total elevation of about 300 
feet at the outlet of Lake Winnipeg, as compared with the 
level of the ridges of the former Lake Agassiz opposite the 
southern part of Lake Manitoba. 

The Second Prairie Steppe finds its eastern border at the 
west shore line of Lake Agassiz. It includes the rest of the 
province on that side, except Turtle Mountain, and is 
bounded westerly by the Coteau du Missouri, or Third Prairie 

This second prairie level had apparently two great lakes 
in early glacial times — one Lake Saskatchewan, the other Lake 
Souris. The level plains of the Souris country were the floor 
of the latter, and White-water Lake is its last remnant. At 
this time we believe Lake Saskatchewan was cut off by the 
land ice and the Pasquia Hills from Lake Agassiz, and the 

» Dr. George Bryce, Surface Geol. Red River. Trans. Hist, and Sci. Soc. Man., 
No. 41, 1891, p. I. 

8 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

waters of both Saskatchewan rivers, discharging into it, found 
their overflow near the Elbow and went by way of the 
present Qu'Appelle Valley into Lake Souris. The sandhills 
extending west of Griswold are the delta sands of this old 

Lake Souris, receiving the waters of the Saskatchewan, 
Assiniboine, and Souris Rivers, found its overflow in a mighty 
flood that swept down through Lang's Valley, Rock Lake, 
Swan Lake, and Pembina Valley to discharge into Lake Agassiz, 
where it formed an extensive sandy delta, now represented by 
the sandhills where the Pembina River issues from Pembina 
Hills, in Dakota. 

But probably the receding of the supposed glacier allowed 
the overflow of Lake Souris to find a lower channel into Lake 
Agassiz, by way of the Grand Valley of the Assiniboine, at 
Brandon. The Carberry and adjoining sandhills are the delta 
deposits at the new mouth of the great river. The varied 
forms of these hills are due to the piling and sculpturing power 
of the wind. 

A further recession of the glacier lowered Lake Saskatche- 
wan to the level of Lake Agassiz, joining them together at 
the north of Pasquia Hills, as shown in the map. Thus 
Manitoba lost the Saskatchewan; for now that famous stream 
had dropped lower than the slight ridge that cuts it off^ from 
its ancient channel — the valley of Qu'Appelle — and following 
the low lands to the north it settled into the bed wherein we see 
it to-day. 

The average altitude of this Second Prairie Steppe is, 
according to Dr. George M. Dawson,' i,6oo feet above the sea, 
or about 800 feet above the first Prairie Steppe. The rise is 
well shown between Morden and Thornhill where there is a 
difference of over 300 feet in six miles. 

Dr. George Bryce considers' that the Tiger Hills, Brandon 
Hills, Arrow Hills, etc., are vast moraines, or dumps of drift 
material that was side-tracked from the glaciers. 

' Geol. and Resour., 49th Parallel, B. N. A., Bound Comm., 1875, P- 5- 
* Surface Geol. Red River Trans. Hist, and Sci. Soc. Man., No. 41, 1891, p. 5. 

Introduction 9 

The Third Prairie Steppe, or Coteau du Missouri, is far 
beyond our limits, except for the Turtle Mountain, which, 
rising some 500 feet above the plain to the east of it, is more 
than 2,000 feet above the sea, and is a sort of island or eastern 
outlier of the Third Prairie Steppe, which extends to the foot 
of the Rocky Mountains. 

Salt Springs. 

In Professor Macoun's book, "Manitoba and the Great 
Northwest,"^ I find the following: *' Numerous salt springs 
are found in connection with them [the Devonian Rocks]. 

"The subjoined list of those known to occur on Lakes Mani- 
toba and Winnipegosis may tend to excite interest in these 
extensive deposits: 

1. Crane River, Lake Manitoba. 

2. Waterhen River, Dickson's Landing. 

3. Salt Point, east side of Lake Winnipegosis. 

4. Salt Springs, Lake Winnipegosis. 

5. Pine River, Lake Winnipegosis. 

6. Rivers near Duck Bay. 

7. Turtle River, Lake Dauphin. 

8. Swan or Shoal River, two localities. 

9. Salt River, flowing into Dawson Bay. 

10. Numerous salt springs and bare, saturated tracts of 
many acres in extent on Red Deer River, which flows into the 
head of Dawson Bay, Lake Winnipegosis. For ten miles up 
this river, salt springs are quite frequent, and in former years 
excellent salt was collected in three places, where it formed a 
crust on the surface of the ground. Some springs were ex- 
amined where a respectable rivulet of strong brine issued from 
them, as clear as crystal, and evidently quite pure. All the 
springs and marshes seen were bordered with seaside plants, and 
one of them, which has never been found from the sea coast be- 
fore in America, was found in abundance. The plant referred 

* Manitoba and the Great Northwest, 1883, p. 400. 

10 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to is Sea-Side Plantain {Plantago marittma).'' To this Dr. 
Robert Bell adds: "In the country lying immediately to the 
south-west of Westbourne are several springs or water holes 
which are slightly saline." 

The following extracts from Professor H. Y. Hind's 
report" shows that this line of saliferous strata goes quite across 
our Province: 

"Near and west of Stoney Mountain many small barren 
areas occur, covered with a saline efflorescence; they may be 
traced to the Assiniboine, and beyond that river in a direction 
nearly due south to La Riviere Sale and the forty-ninth parallel. 
These saline deposits are important, as they in all probability 
serve, as will be shown hereafter, to denote the presence of salt- 
bearing rocks beneath them, similar to those from which the 
salt springs of Swan River, Manitoba Lake, and La Riviere 
Sale issue." 

Alkaline Lakes. 

In addition to the Salt springs and numerous fresh-water 
lakes, there are hundreds of alkaline lakes and ponds. These 
are mere drainage basins, depending solely on evaporation for the 
removal of their accumulated waters. They owe their alkaline 
impregnation, not to anything of the nature of salt- bearing 
strata, but to the continual influx and evaporation of surface 
water, very slightly impregnated with alkali, through running 
over the prairie soils derived from the Cretaceous marls which 
contain alkaline salts. These "dead waters" rarely have fish in 
them, but they are usually swarming with a species of amby- 
stoma, besides numerous kinds of leeches, frogs, aquatic insects, 
and larvae. They have, I believe, several peculiar sedges, and 
are frequented by certain birds that seem to avoid fresher waters ; 
of these the Baird sparrow and the avocet are examples. 

White-water, the relic of Lake Souris, is the largest of the 
strongly alkaline lakes. Shoal Lake is larger but is inter- 
mediate in character, its waters being but slightly alkaline and 

^ Assin. and Sask. Expl. Exped., 1859, p. 40. 

Introduction 11 

having an occasional overflow into Lake Manitoba; it abounds 
in jackfish and sticklebacks. 

A remarkable circumstance about these lakes is the fact 
that they grow larger and deeper, for a time, then gradually 
shrink. That is to say, the general level of water in the whole 
Province, rises and falls in a cycle of years. Just what the 
period of years is has not been determined. In 1882 at Car- 
berry the water was high, but falhng; in 1884 it was much 
lower; 1892 was a year of very low water; in 1904 it was very 
high. The explanation is unknown to me. 

Forests and Prairies. 

Four-fifths of Manitoba is in the forest region. The true 
Prairies are found only in the south-western quarter of our 
country; and this is so much varied by tracts of hills and 
wooded river-valleys, occupying fully one-quarter of the area, 
that the prairies themselves do not aggregate more than one- 
sixth of the entire province. 

The map showing the distribution of timber I compiled 
in 1890, from personal observations, assisted by Reports of the 
Dominion Geographical and Geological Survey, and the 
Reports of the United States Tenth Census. In 1905 I found 
that though much good timber had been cut, there was no very 
material change in the boundaries of the tracts formerly 
classed as wooded country. 

There can be no doubt that in past ages large areas were 
denuded of trees and turned into prairies, by wild-fire; but 
this agency has become inoperative. The true Plains were 
treeless from other causes. 

The Faunal Areas and Life Zones of Canada/ 

By far the most important factor in the distribution of 
life is temperature. 

The grand temperature point in nature, the one at which 

' This is founded chiefly on Dr. J. A. Allen's Natural Provinces of the North 
American Temperate Region, 1871, his Geographical Distribution of the Mammals 

12 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

all life conditions are changed suddenly, is the freezing point 
of water, and the two most important divisions of North Amer- 
ica are shown by lines drawn across the continent indicating: 

(a) The region in which water never freezes, and 

(b) The region in which water is always more or less 

Or in other words: 

(a) The south limit of frost, and 

(b) The south limit of perpetual frost in the ground that is 
exposed to the direct rays of the sun. 

These lines demark respectively the north edge of the 
Tropical and the south edge of the Arctic Realms; the region 
between is the Temperate Realm. Thus we have the primary 
division of the northern hemisphere, into Tropical, Temperate, 
and Arctic Realms, corresponding with the distribution of plants 
and animals, and that portion of each which belongs to North 
America is called a Region. 

I The Tropical Region 

If the earth were flat and without currents of air or water, 
the north boundary of the Tropical Realm would coincide 
exactly with the geographical Tropic of Cancer (N. Lat. 23 1°), 
which is the northernmost limit where at some time each year 
the sun is direct overhead. It is virtually this line modified by 
local influences, pushed northward by currents of warm water 
and southward by cool high uplands. 

This is the region where frost is unknown, where the 
summer is long and hot, and where there is no cold winter. 
It is the land of the palm-trees, the parrots and monkeys, the 
home of the black human races. 

(Bull. U. S. Gcol. and Geog. Survey Terr., 1878, Vol. IV, No. 2), his Geographical 
Distribution of North American Mammals (Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Dec. 29, 1892, 
read Jan. 26, 1891), Dr. C. Hart Merriam's Geographical Distribution of Life in North 
America (Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., April 13, 1892), and Life Zones and Crop Zones of 
the United States (Bull. No. 10, Biological Survey, 1898); with assistance in California 
from Joseph Grinnell's maps in Pacific Coast Avifauna, No. 3, 1902. 

I have taken Dr. Allen's nomenclature as a basis, adopted Dr. Merriam's main 
lines of division, and, for the region north of the northern boundary of the United 
States, have proposed some new names and subdivisions. 

Introduction 13 

2 The Arctic Region. 

Similarly, the south boundary of the Arctic Region is 
virtually the Arctic Circle (N. Lat. 66i°), which is the south 
limit of day without night in mid-summer; and night without 
day in mid-winter, that is, the land of the midnight sun; and 
this would be the exact south boundary of the Arctic Region, 
but that in America the cold currents of Hudson's Bay, etc., and 
the warm currents of the Mackenzie and Yukon, etc., have 
bent the line southward and northward as indicated. 

This is the land of long, cold winters and short, mild sum- 
mers, the country where frost never leaves the soil. It is a 
region without trees, the home of the White Bear, the White 
Fox, the Polar White Hare, the White Lemming, white owl, 
and the snowbird. 

And whether considered in the far north, or on the moun- 
tain tops which form Arctic islands in the warmer regions, its 
south or lower boundary is the best-marked faunal line in 

3 The Temperate Region. 

Lying between these two takes in the United States and 
the greater part of Canada. Its north line is the limit of trees, 
Its south line the limit of frost. This is the region of long, bright 
summer, and of short, cold winter that comes with frost and 
snow. This is the range of deciduous trees, as well as of 
pines and spruces, the land of corn and wine, the proper home 
of the agricultural white man. 

Canada is concerned only with the Arctic and Temper- 
ate Regions. Each of these regions is divisible into several 
Life-zones, which theoretically extend east and west across the 

These also are bounded on the north and on the south 
chiefly by the lines of temperature. Concerning these limits 
Merriam says: "Investigations conducted by the Biological 
Survey have shown that the northern distribution of terrestrial 
animals and plants is governed by the sum of the positive 
temperatures for the entire season of growth and reproduction. 

14 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and that the southward distribution is governed by the mean tem- 
perature of a brief period during the hottest part of the year." * 

But other factors enter the problem of distribution. Of 
these humidity is probably most important. In North Amer- 
ica it makes divisional lines and cuts each of the temperate 
zones in two or three segments called Faunas. This is a 
theoretical limitation. As a matter of practice the boundaries 
of the Faunas were arrived at by actual observation, thus: 

When a great many of the well-marked life-forms called 
species agree in recognizing a common limit, the fact is ac- 
cepted as evidence that within that area is a set of conditions 
necessary to create a Fauna (or Flora). 

A Faunal area may be divided into several subfaunas. 
These are of course less pronounced. When a species is found 
ranging over several subfaunas it is usually represented in each 
by a geographical race. 

The Arctic Region is divided into five Faunas: 

Alaskan^ characterized by the Fur-seal, Northern Sea-lion, 
Banded-seal, Pacific Walrus, Grant Caribou, yellow wagtail, 
Emperor goose, Steller eider. Nelson gull. 

Barren-ground, characterized in its main area by Muskox, 
Parry Ground-squirrel, Lemmings, blue-goose, snow-goose, 
willow ptarmigan, etc. {Ungava and certain Polar Islands 
should probably be ranked as subfaunas of this.) 

Greenland, characterized by Greenland Caribou, Ward 
Muskox, Greenland redpoll linnets, Reinhardt ptarmigan, and 
various European species. 

Alpine, which is the top of each mountain that rises above 
timber line anywhere in North America, and characterized by 
white-tailed ptarmigan, pipit. Calling-hare, etc. 

Aleutian Fauna,^ comprising the Aleutian Peninsula and 
contiguous Islands, a treeless coast region characterized 
chiefly by peculiar species of Voles; also of birds, such as 

* Life Zones and Crop Zones, etc., 1898, p. 54. 

" In moving this from the Temperate to the Arctic Realm I follow Osgood, N. A. 
Fauna, No. 24, 1904, p. 24. 

Introduction 15 

Alaska wren, gray-naped finch, gray song-sparrow, Nelson 
ptarmigan, Atken ptarmigan, etc. 

Some consider the Arctic to be of one fauna; if this view 
be accepted these five will be subfaunas. 

The Temperate Region is divided into the following: 
The Hudsonian Zone or Fauna comprises the northern or 
spruce belt of the great coniferous forest that stretches across 
the continent from Labrador to Alaska — and that runs south- 
ward along the uppe-r timbered slopes of the higher mountains 
of the United States and Mexico. It lies next the Barren- 
grounds of the north, and the Alpine of the high mountains, 
and in both is the region of stunted spruce, and the home of 
many characteristic birds and mammals. 
It is found in five subfaunas: 

(a) The Hudsonian Subfauna or true Hudsonian, whose 
south limit is about summer isotherm 55°. Characteristic 
species are: northern shrike, common red-poll, Harris sparrow, 
tree-sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, gray-cheeked thrush. 

(b) The Yukon Hudsonian Subfauna, the region of the 
White Sheep, the Alaskan Grizzly, several species of Brown 
bear, etc. 

(c) The Subalpine or Mountain Hudsonian Subfauna 
chiefly in Yukon and British Columbia, characterized by 
Mountain-goat, Black-sheep, Clark crow, etc. 

(d) The Labrador or Atlantic Hudsonian Subfauna, 
characterized chiefly by very dark races of species that are 
widely spread over several faunas. In this subfauna, at 
Hamilton Inlet, is an island of the Canadian fauna. 

(e) The Newfoundland Subfauna. This is the Hudsonian 
part of Newfoundland; owing to its isolation it is fairly well 
marked. Its species are many, for example, the Newfound- 
land or White Caribou, the Newfoundland Lynx, Newfound- 
land Red-fox, Welch ptarmigan, etc. 

The Canadian Fauna. — The Canadian Fauna is the 
southern part of the great transcontinental coniferous forest 

16 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and is prolonged southward, as shown, along elevated plateaus 
and mountains in irregular capes and islands as far as Mexico. 
Among the many characteristic mammals and birds of the 
Canadian Zone are the Porcupines, Woodland Caribou, 
Star-nosed, Brewer and Gibbs Moles, Water-shrews, Voles 
and Long-tailed Shrews of various species. Northern Jumping- 
mice. The north limit of this Fauna forms the northern limit 
of the large Skunks, the Star-nosed Moles, the Hoary-bat, the 
Woodchuck, etc. Its southern edge is also the southern limit 
of the Canada Lynx, the Wolverene, Pine-martens, Moose, 
Caribou, the Porcupines, and various species of Short-tailed 
Meadow-mice of the genus Phenacomys, etc. Characteristic 
birds are the white-throated sparrow, Blackburnian, yellow- 
rumped, and Audubon warblers, olive-backed thrush, hermit- 
thrush, three-toed woodpeckers, crossbills, and Canada jays. 
It is found in two subfaunas: 

(a) The Canadian subfauna, or Canadian proper, extend- 
ing in its main area from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the east 
slope of the Coast Range. This is a land of coniferous trees and 
aspens. Among its characteristic animals are Moose, Wood- 
land Caribou, Canada Porcupine, hermit-thrush, spruce grouse. 

(b) The Rocky Mountain subfauna, extending from South- 
ern British Columbia southward along the higher mountains 
into Mexico. The Mountain Caribou, Canadian Mountain- 
sheep, the Yellow-haired Porcupine, Yellow-bellied Marmot, 
Rhoads Marten, Baird Hare, etc., are characteristic of its 
main area. 

The Sitkan Fauna might be considered a west-coast 
division of the Canadian. It is characterized chiefly by ex- 
ceptional rainfall, dense forests, and heavy-coloured races of 
birds and mammals that have a wide distribution; but it has 
very few distinctive species of animals. 

The Pacific Coast Fauna, comprising the immediate coast 
from Queen Charlotte Islands down to middle California, 
characterized by mild winters, very heavy rainfall, forests of 

Introduction 17 

enormous trees, and many peculiar animals, as Sewellel, Coast 
Deer, Pacific Raccoon, etc. 

(N. B. — Merriam combines the Arctic Realm with 
Hudsonian, Canadian, and Pacific faunas to form his Boreal 

The Campestrian Fauna. — The region of the northern 
plains, where there is yet rain enough to banish aridity. In 
British America this appears as two subfaunas: 

(a) The Campestrian proper or Saskatchewan, of which 
characteristic species are: Richardson Ground-squirrel, Long- 
tailed Weasel, Northern Kit-fox, Northern Pocket-gopher, 
Prairie-hare, Richardson merlin, Columbia sharp-tailed grouse, 
white-winged blackbird. Its north limit is also the hmit of west- 
ern meadow-lark, McCown longspur, oriole. Cooper hawk, etc. 

(b) The Okanagan Subfauna in Southern British Colum- 
bia, a dry region in which we find: Okanagan Marmot, 
Douglas Pocket-gopher, Pocket-mice (Perognathus), Jack- 
rabbit, Badger, Whitetailed Deer, etc. 

The Alleghanian Fauna takes in part of the new Province 
of Saskatchewan, south-western Manitoba, most of southern 
Ontario and Nova Scotia. At its northern border the Alle- 
ghanian forms about the northern limit of the Panther, the 
Raccoon, the Mole-shrew, the bluebird, catbird, chewink, 
brown thrasher, and bobolink. Its north border is the south 
limit of Moose and Caribou. Its southern border forms about 
the southern limit of the Ermines, the Harbour Seal, the Com- 
mon Chipmunk, several species of Field-mice (genera Evotomys 
and Synaptomys), the Snowshoe-hare, etc. 

It appears in two subfaunas: , 

(a) The Western or Prairie Alleghanian subfauna w^est- 
ward of Lake Michigan. Characteristic species are: Gray 
Chipmunk, Loring Red-vole, Minnesota Red-squirrel, etc. 

(b) The Eastern or Woodland Alleghanian subfauna chiefly 
east of Lake Michigan. Characteristic species are: Ontario 
Gray-squirrel and Northern Cottontail. 





The Divisions on the Map opposite may be set forth thus: 

Arctic Region divided into: 







Temperate Region divided into: 


Subalpine subfauna 
Hudsonian ( Hudsonian 
Newfoundland subfauna 



Pacific Coast 

^Canadian subfauna 
I Rocky Mt. subfauna 

Saskatchewan or True Campestrian 

Okanacan subfauna 

Alleghanian [Western or Prairie Alleghanian subf. 
'^r.astern or Woodland subfauna 



Carolinian (with Upper Sonoran)=Upper Austral 

T ^TT,o..»,x.., /The Gulf-strip and the \ Lower 
Louisianian -r o 1 = A I 

*■ Lower bonoran together > Austral 


Tropical Region: 

Shown here in broad outline only 


20 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

(The Pacific, Campestrian and Alleghanian Faunas to- 
gether are Merriam's Transition Zone.) 

The Carolinian Fauna, touching the extreme of southern 
Ontario, that is, the lower region along the north shore of Lake 
Erie. The northern boundary of this Fauna forms, in a general 
way, the northern limit of the Gray-fox, the Northern Fox- 
squirrels, the Pine-mouse, the Opossum, and the Bats of the 
genus Isf ycticejus. 

(The Carolinian and Upper Sonoran Faunas together are 
Merriam's Upper Austral Zone.) 

Map 3 sets forth these main divisions, but cannot, of 
course, give the complex local details. As a matter of fact 
every high mountain must and does exhibit a succession of 
faunal areas from its base to its summit. So that all the great 
mountain ranges of western Canada should be spotted on the 
summits with islands of Arctic fauna around which are 
Hudsonian rings. Furthermore, the valleys that run east and 
west are always more boreal on the shady side than on the 
north side, where the slope gives them more directly the rays 
of the sun. 

Faunal Areas of Manitoba. 

We find that our Province falls within the limits of two of 
the subfaunas: The true Canadian and the Western Allegha- 
nian; and the dividing line between is drawn nearly straight 
from the south-eastern to the north-western angle of the 
Province. This coincides with the summer isotherm or 65°. 
North of it is: 

The Canadian Fauna. — The country embraced is one 
stretch of rugged, rocky hills, chiefly Laurentian, varied with 
numerous rivers and clear-water lakes, and covered with a 
continuous coniferous forest. The most characteristic trees 
of this forest are white spruce (Picea canadensis), black 




Fig. I — Diagram showing the reLitionship of the Zones and Faunas of the Temperate 
Region. A Zone usually comprises one or more faunas. Subfaunas are not entered. 
The shading is heavy in proportion to the rainfall. 

22 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

spruce (P. mariana), jack pine {Pinus divaricata), tamarack 
{Larix laricina), and canoe birch {Betula papyri f era). Among 
the characteristic animals are: The Caribou, Porcupine, 
Moose, Marten, and Wolverene. The Hudsonian chickadee, 
Arctic three-toed woodpecker, Canada nuthatch, spruce grouse, 
and Canada jay are distinctive birds. 

Riding, Duck, and Porcupine Mountains may be con- 
sidered islands of this region lying far south of its proper limits 
and surrounded by Alleghanian conditions, but so elevated as 
to be Canadian in fauna and flora. 

Alleghanian Fauna. — South of this great diagonal line 
is the Alleghanian Fauna. In this we find our prairies and 
deciduous forests. The most abundant tree of these forests 
is the poplar or quaking aspen {Populus tremuloides). The elm 
{JJlmus americana) and mossy-cup oak {Quercus macrocarpa) 
are the most characteristic. We find also the mountain ash 
{Pyrus samhuci folia), box elder or ash-leaved maple {Acer 
negundo), black poplar {Populus halsamifera), and canoe birch 
{Betula papyrifera). The last two named occur likewise in 
the Canadian. This is the region of the Province where the 
Antelope and the Kit-fox were formerly abundant. 

Characteristic species found there to-day are Elk, White- 
tailed Deer, Mule-deer, Badger, Pocket-gopher, Yellow Ground- 
squirrel, and Coyote; among reptiles, the snapping turtle, 
painted turtle, red-bellied snake, and green-snake; and among 
birds, the wood-duck, the chestnut-sided warbler, the night 

The General Plan of Treatment for Each Species. 

In order to cover the ground more fully and systematically 
I have considered each animal under some thirty different 
heads, asking of each in turn — What do we know of it in this 
department, or how far has it progressed along these fines? 
When nothing is said it means that nothing is known. In the 
light of this, then, we are struck by the number of blanks and 


Introduction 23 

are thus brought to a realization of how much there is to be 
done. In many cases we have got no further than giving the 
creature a name. 

The sections are briefly indicated below. Their order is 
varied whenever it has seemed best suited to the material. 

The accepted or acceptable English names are first nomen- 
recorded; second, the scientific names used by the leading 
American mammalogists, with the important references. The 
French-Canadian names have next place. 

Experience shows that a record of the Indian names may 
be of great service to travellers and historians; therefore I give 
them as fully as possible in the language of each of the tribes 
that touch Manitoba, or that I personally came in contact with. 

In my preliminary account of the "Mammals of Mani- 
toba" (1887) I gave only the Ojibwa and Cree names, and 
used a special alphabet that had been recommended by several 
Ethnologists; but I found it open to at least two objections: 
first, that the Ethnologists themselves were not agreed on it; 
and, second, that only the few who had the alphabet could use 
my list. The records were meant for the whole world of stu- 
dents, in and out of Manitoba. Therefore I have now adopted 
Sir John Richardson's plan, and have given the Indian names 
in the English alphabet; the letter "g" being hard always. 

The names of species treated in this book are capitalized capi- 

When a number is used in an exact or mathematical sense n'^^m- 


I prefer to express it in figures; except for i and 2 figure di- 
visions of time, or where obscurity might result, or when the 
number begins a sentence, or when it is a very small number 
that stands isolated — in which cases it is spelled out. 

When dealing with the animal as a race or species I use the gen-der 
neuter gender as consistently as possible. When speaking of 
an individual I use the gender that seems fittest. 

24 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

DEscRip- I have aimed to give only so much description of 


each animal as is necessary for identification, and even 
then have usually described each animal three times. Set- 
ting forth: 

(a) The impression it makes as one sees it alive at a short 

(b) A sufficiently full description, assuming the specimen 
to be in hand. 

(c) The peculiar points that will distinguish it from its 
nearest allies. 

I set the family and generic characters in close context 
with those of the species, because when set elsewhere they are 
commonly overlooked by beginners. 

MEASURE- Three standard measurements are given: 

Total length. — This is the distance in a straight line from 
tip of nose to tip of bone in tail (ignoring the hair), when the 
creature is fairly stretched out. 

Tail. — Set the tail at right angles to the back, take the 
distance from the back to the tip of the bone in tail (ignoring 
the hair). This is the length of tail. 

Hind-foot. — This is the distance in a straight line from the 
end of the heel to the tip of the longest claw. 

The measurements, usually those of an adult male, are 
approximate. A lo per cent, variation over and under is under- 
stood. They are given in inches; in parentheses are their 
approximate equivalents in millimetres. 

In the Horned Ruminants — known as Big Game — I have 
devoted some space to the subject of horns and antlers, and 
aimed to show the record heads. If any have been overlooked 
I shall be glad to have the facts for future use. 

SPEED The speed of wild animals is usually exaggerated. I do 

not believe that there exists an)rwhere on earth a wild quad- 
ruped that on level ground, can outrun a good horse. These 
facts I set forth in the Antelope chapter; I have further gathered 

Introduction 25 

all evidence I could, bearing on the gait, speed, and the climbing 
and swimming powers of the species treated. 

The tracks of each species are drawn and one or two tracks 
general principles pointed out. Predaceous animals com- 
monly set the hind-foot in the same track as the front-foot 
of that side; this correct register enables them to go more 

Tree-climbing animals when running on the ground, 
bound, and commonly set the front-feet together in a line across 
the body; ground animals trot or if they bound set the front- 
feet in a line along the body. This corresponds with the 
hopping of tree-birds and the walking of ground-birds. 

The dung and signs are of great importance to the student scatol- 
as to the hunter. They offer much history of animals whose etc' 
presence might otherwise be unsuspected, and they are here 
recorded as far as my material made possible. 

After considering the visible animal the ground is clear to its 
discuss the real subject, the study of the little mind that pre- ' 
ceded and fathered the mind of man. 

The first aspect of this study is environment. 


The environment is the creator of the animal, the mould ex 
in which each species was cast. Therefore no two can have ment 
exactly the same environment, otherwise they would be one 
and the same species. We look for important light in determin- 
ing exactly the environment that created each. 

The range of the animal is part of its environment, and range 
long ago I came to the conclusion that every creature is chang- 
ing its range. So the question becomes not "Is it changing ?" 
but **In what direction is it changing.?" Is it winning or 
losing territory ? In this connection it is noteworthy that the 
species with manyextra-limital records are usually the ones that 
are extending their ranges. It looks as though these wander- 

26 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ers were the advance guard or scouts in a region that ukimately 
their tribe is to possess. 

MAPS The Maps, begun for the most part ten years ago, aim to 

show the present distribution of the species, except when 
otherwise stated. They are fairly complete for the large 
game animals, but the material does not yet exist to make maps 
for all species. In some, like the Bats, I have spotted the actual 
records and added an outline that is probably the range of the 
species. In others, as the Squirrels, I have offered a provisional 
and diagrammatic map of the ranges. 

A spot with a ring around it stands for type locality. 

HOME- The home-range of each individual is next to be con- 

sidered. No wild animal roams at random over the country; 
each has a home-region, even if it has not an actual home. 
The size of this home-region corresponds somewhat with the 
size of the animal. Flesh-eaters as a class have a larger home- 
region than herb-eaters. The more evidence we get, the 
smaller the home-region of each animal appears. 

In the idea of a home-region is the germ of territorial 
rights. At every step it presents close and interesting parallels 
with the growth of territorial law in man. 


Some animals have two home-regions, and make a regular 
seasonal change from one to the other; such animals are said 
to be migratory. Extremes of the habit are illustrated by the 
Woodchuck, individuals of which make a short move from the 
summer-den in the open fields to a winter-den in the woods, 
and by the Barren-ground Caribou, which makes a very com- 
plete migration from the open Arctic plains that it frequents 
in summer to the woods of its winter range, 500 miles away. 

But there is another kind of migration, best illustrated by 
the Moose, though observed in many species. After dwelling 
for a number of years in a given region they move out in a 
body to some other and hitherto unoccupied region. The 
causes of this are not obvious. 

Introduction 27 

An attempt is made whenever possible to estimate the num- 
actual number of each kind of animal. The data for the ^^^^ 
calculation are given so that the effort, if not satisfactory, at 
least affords a starting point for a better estimate. 

The numbers of each species seem to increase and de- 
crease in cycles varying from five to ten years. These periods, 
as far as possible, are recorded and note made of every point 
that seems to account for the variations; nevertheless, they are 
far from explained. 

The food of each species is carefully considered as far as food 
present light admits. Especially remembering that: 

Each is classed as the foe of all it feeds upon. And 

In the food question we find the beginning of all 

property rights, even those of range. 


The high development of the property instinct is remark- 
able in some of the lowest forms of mammalian life. Beginning 
with food or mates, it extends to nest and range, and, finally, 
to personal property that has nothing but an aesthetic claim to 

The devices used as property-marks are most interesting. 
Some animals, as Bears, claw and gnaw the trees on their range 
— but most kinds use the scent produced by special glands. Of 
this class are Weasels and Wolves. 

The frugal habit of storine food is found in most of our stor- 


higher animals, probably in all except the Horned Ruminants, habit 
It is one of the most civilized instincts, and attains its maximum 
development in those animals which store not for themselves 
but for their communities — of this class are Mice and Beavers. 

The relation of the animal to light is an interesting rela- 
department of environment — as a general rule birds are diurnal, light 
beasts crepuscular. But there are few birds or beasts that 

28 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

prefer the full glare of noon-day or the black gloom of a 
dark night. No animals can literally see in the absolute dark, 
they need some light, but not much. Coons and Skunks are 
night creatures, Squirrels are sun-seekers, but most others, 
even Bats, are lovers of twilight. 

Among savage nations there is a prejudice against sleeping 
in the moonlight. It is said to produce many kinds of trouble. 
I have sought for sound reasons in this or for parallels among 
the animals, so far without success. On the contrary, it would 
seem that some species, as certain Deer and Bats, will regulate 
their movements to take advantage of the light of the moon. 

sociA- Gregarious animals are not necessarily sociable. Bank 

swallows nest together, /. f., gregariously, but do not assist 
each other in any important way — so are not sociable. Ante- 
lope run in herds at a time, so are gregarious, but do not unite 
their efforts for a common purpose, so are scarcely sociable. 
On the other hand. Wolves do not den in colonies or continually 
move in bands, yet they unite their powers to help each other 
in tasks beyond the strength of one, so are eminently sociable. 
Sociability reaches its highest pitch in certain rodents, 
such as Voles, that have communal dwellings or villages under 
a crude law of common interest, or the Beaver, with its wonder- 
ful pond community — patriarchal rather than democratic. 

MEANS Communication must progress with sociability. Other 

MUNicA- things equal, we find animals profiting by each other's society; 


that is, truly sociable in proportion as they have advanced in 
methods of communicating one with another, and vice versa. 

While voice, gesture, and touch are widely used, the most 
surprising are the smell signals. These are highly developed 
in the Antelope and several other species, but are of less interest 
than the smelling-posts of Bears, dogs. Wolves, Foxes, etc. 
These I have examined and treated at length. 

SENSES Evidence as to the powers of touch, taste, sight, hearing, 

smell, and direction have been sought for. 

Introduction 29 

But some cases, like those cited in the Coyote, are so 
extraordinary and so difficult of explanation by the operation 
of the ordinary senses that many field-naturalists have been led 
to believe in a special sense, called second-sight or telepathy. 
Modern psychologists, however, do not accept the telepathic 
theory, but suggest, rather, that hitherto we have failed to 
gauge accurately the sense-capacity of animals. 

The evolution of amusements is a fascinating theme. We amuse- 
find all stages among our animals. A high pitch is reached ' 
when many adults of a species will meet together under circum- 
stances divesting the meeting of any sex or food impulse and 
engage in some friendly contest for the joy of combat, without 
anger or danger. The highest stage is reached when there is 
a set place with special apparatus. This is seen in the Otter 
slide and the European Badger's gameof" King of the Castle." 

The marriage customs of animals are full of human mating 
interest and lessons. There can be no doubt that at first ani- 
mals were hermaphrodite; and that as soon as sex appeared, 
promiscuity was the order of the time. This, through ages of 
experiment, was displaced by polyandry and polygamy, and 
these in turn by pure monogamy in the highest animals. So 
that although all forms are represented to-day, monogamy is 
proving its superiority. 

Other things equal, a monogamous animal will beat a 
polygamous in the struggle for life. As a rule, the higher quad- 
rupeds in North America that hold their own against man are 

The relation of the father to the family is important for 
observation here. As soon as he becomes a member of the 
family group an entirely new and much higher plane is reached. 

Home is the abiding place of the family. The home group home 
among all higher creatures is essentially a trinity of father, 
mother and young. Any other grouping with more factors 
or less is not successful; therefore, only the truly monog- 

so Life-histories of Northern Animals 

amous quadrupeds have a home. A study of the species 
herein treated shows this to be hterally true. In each case I 
have endeavoured to describe in detail the home-place of the 
species; including not only the nest itself with its linings 
and approaches, but the storage places, chambers, galleries and 
ventilators in connection, as well as the burrows and above 
ground runways, with their various signs and marks, to indicate 
their direction, use or owners. 

sANiTA- Co-incident with the founding of a home must appear the 

TION . r • • 

rudiments of sanitation. The more elaborate the home the 
higher the idea of keeping it clean. The many devices of 
animals show gradation between the communal midden-heaps 
of the Voles, the daily cleansing of the Wolves, and the wonder- 
ful dry-earth closets of the Pocket-gophers. I have sought to 
learn how far each species has progressed on this line. 

TRAIN- While the youno: of some low animals never see their 

ING OF ... 

THE parents at all, but begin life with nothing save an equipment 
of instincts, others are wholly dependent on their parents, and 
the higher they are the more dependent they are and the more 
they profit by parental training. It was notorious among 
falconers that a falcon trained by its mother was always 
superior to one trained by man. The same remark applies 
to the cheetah or hunting leopard of India. ^° Training is 
given chiefly by means of example; whether consciously or 
not, I do not know. I do not know what consciousness is; it 
may be that most human acts are not conscious, but that is 
another question, and it does not alter the fact of training. 


LOVE OF Very few mammals show a love of the beautiful in sight or 


BEAUTi- sound. The gift is much less developed than in birds, yet the 
faculty is not absent. It is, I believe, axiomatic that no creature 
can respond to music, much less produce it, without having 
pleasure in it. The readiness of the Coyote and the Gray-wolf 
to respond to certain sounds and their power to produce 

'" See Mam. of India, T. C. Jerdon, 1874, p. 117. 

Introduction 31 

sounds, some of which are highly musical even to us, is evidence 
of their having progressed far in this direction, and the en- 
joyment of the Pack-rat in its pile of glittering baubles is 
founded, as I see it, on no other sense than the love of the 

It is possible to show that five of the Ten Command- moral- 
ments are natural laws, namely, the ordinances against diso- ^^^ 
bedience, murder, impurity, theft, and falsification, the breach 
of which among animals entails severe punishment. 

These things I have set forth in detail elsewhere." 

Vice among animals affords an interesting field of enquiry. 
There is more of it than is generally known. 

Vice I assume to be the deflection of any natural part or vice 
power from its proper purpose, to one which works harm for 
the species. Thus we see self-mutilation among monkeys and 
parrots. We see hens devouring their own eggs, the loco-habit 
among range cattle and horses, rare cases of infidelity among 
pigeons, of stealing among pack-rats, and incest among geese, 
as well as unholy barren alliances between species wide apart. 

We have, indeed, recorded among animals nearly every 
kind of vice that was known among men and forbidden by 
Mosaic law. 

With few exceptions, however, these cases are among 
domesticated or captive animals; and the questions arise: 
Has all this evil been developed in the animals by their cap- 
tivity or has their captivity merely given us unusual opportuni- 
ties for observing it ? 

The latter seems more probable, though there is some 
truth also in the former explanation. 

In the way of animal crime nothing is better known than crime 
infanticide by father or mother. In most cases it arises from 
man's interference with the young. If we handle the new-born 
young of a rabbit the mother is likely to kill them; this I have 

" See Natural History of the Ten Commandments Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907. 

32 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

seen many times. In menageries many little Bears are born 
and a large proportion killed by the mother. It may be 
objected that she killed them accidentally in her anxiety to carry 
them beyond the reach of man, but the detailed cases given in 
the Lynx and Otter chapters cannot be so explained. This 
generalization I draw, that when man tampers with the young 
it oftentimes so affects or obliterates the maternal instinct that 
the mother deliberately destroys her own offspring. 

Whether or not this occurs in a state of nature is another 
question. The hunters and trappers generally believe that 
it does. The male parent especially is charged with oc- 
casional infanticide. The evidence is conflicting. 

SUICIDE If suicide means realization of the fact that such and such 

an act means death and escape from certain unpleasant condi- 
tions, and that this full realization is followed by deliberate 
choice of death, then animal suicide is not proven and is not 
likely to be. 

If, on the other hand, we allow it to be suicide when the 
animal, driven frantic by grief, pain, anger, or despair, blindly 
turns its destructive powers against itself — that is, allows its 
destructive or defiant instincts to overpower its self-preserva- 
tive instincts with results disastrous and sometimes fatal — 
then is animal suicide of frequent occurrence. 

There are many degrees of this. 

An orang which I was watching in Philadelphia flew into 
a fit of jealous rage on seeing the keeper give some favourite 
food to its neighbour only, and dashed its own head against the 
floor violently and repeatedly. 

Wolves suffering the pains of poisoning often bite their 
own legs and flanks. 

A Blackbear observed by Richard Kearton was so in- 
furiated at its strong fellow-prisoner getting all the cakes 
thrown in, that it bit its own paws. 

In each of these cases we see a form of suicidal instinct, 
which needs only to be pushed a little further to be literally 

Introduction 33 

The enemies of each species should be considered and enemies 
gauged with care. The struggle for life is at all times so bitter ease^^^' 
that each species is barely able to hold its own, has all the 
burdens it can bear (a thought that has its meed of comfort 
for us); a trifle more of destruction and down it goes, a trifle 
less and it spreads mightily. 

Parasites are sometimes to be enumerated as disease. The 
kinds and the modes of combating them are important. But 
all parasites are not enemies. The species of fly which pupates 
in the dung of the Grizzly-bear is as likely to be a friend as a 

One of the most interesting and obscure traits ob- odd 
served in wild animals is their unexpected friendships. The ner- 
British Badger is known to share its den occasionally with ^"'^^ 
the Fox, and the Fox with the Rabbit. Instances are 
here given of a friendship between a Badger and a lost 
child, a Badger and a Coyote, also of a Red-squirrel and an 
Acadian owl. • 

Whatever the explanation, it is always gratifying to 
find that any animal has reached a plane above the purely 

Strange comradeships and parasitism are on opposite com- 
sides akin to commensalism. Of this nature is the habit seen salism 
in some Mice, of quartering themselves on the hoards of certain 

Many cases not easily classed will come to mind. For 
example, the Water-shrew that lives in the Beaver house, the fly 
that pupates in the Bear's dung, the beetles that live in the filth 
at the bottom of a Red-squirrel's nest. 

Quadrupeds are supposed to live from four to five times age 
as long as the time they need to attain maturity. Their life is 
three parts, youth, prime and age. Many facts in line with 
this belief are adduced, as well as all available data fixing the 
normal life term of each species. 

34 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

STRANGE Strange incidents not referable to any of the above consti- 

iNci- 1 , •' 

DENTS tute another chapter. 

RELA- Finally, space is devoted to a consideration of the animal 

MAN in its relation to man; either indirectly as a helper or hindrance 
to agriculture or as source of commercial products. 

REFER- References are in foot-notes with a brief identification of 

the work. Full details of the same will be found in the list at 
the end of the work. 



■I a 



The Wapiti, Canada Stag, American Red-deer or 
Round-horned Elk. 

Cervus canadensis Erxleben. 
(L. Cervus, a stag ; canadensis, of Canada.) 

Cervus elaphus canadensis Erxleben, 1777, Syst. Reg. An. I, 

p. 305- 
Cervus canadensis ScHREBER, 1 783, Saugth. V, pi. 246 a. 
Type Locality. — Eastern Canada, probably near Montreal. 

French Canadian, le C^r/(male); la Biche (female) 

le Wapiti. 
Cree, Mus-koose. Richardson gives* also as Cree 

names : Wawaskeeshoo^ Awaskees, and Moostoosh. 
OjiB. & Saut., Mush-koose. 
Yankton Sioux, Eh-kahg-tchick-kah. 
Ogallala Sioux, Hay-hah^-kah (male). 

The Deer Family, or Cervidce, are hoofed ruminant family 
mammals, with solid antlers that are grown and shed period- acters 
ically. They have 4 hoofs on each foot, the hinder pair 
much smaller than the front; no gall-bladder; mammae, 4; 
tear-pit below inner corner of eye, well developed. 

„ , ^ 0-0 i-i . SS 

leeth: Inc. ; can. ; or wantmg; prem. ; 

4-4 0-0 3-3 

mol. ^^-^ =32 to 34 

The genus Cervus (Linnaeus, 1758), of which the Euro- 
pean Red-deer is the type, and to which the Wapiti belongs, is 

'F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 251. 


38 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

characterized by great size, many-tined antlers, of which the 
beam is behind; well-marked brow and bez-tines; spotted 
colouring of the fawns; short tail; naked, moist muzzle; 
maned neck; a tuft of hair on inside of hock, and within this 
a scent-gland (tarsal gland). 

0-0 I— I 3—3 3—3 

Teeth: Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. =34 

4-4 0-0 s-3 3-3 

The *'Elk tusks" are the rudimentary canines; they are 
found in both sexes, but are very minute in the female. 

The Wapiti has all the characteristics of its family and 
genus. Its specific peculiarities of size, colour, etc., may be 
recognized by the following: 
SIZE A fine eight-year-old bull Elk, killed in the New York 

Zoological Park, October 3, 1903, was carefully measured by 
Dr. Hornaday,^ as follows: Length, 86| inches (2,205 mm.); 
height at shoulders, 565 inches (1,435 mm.); circumference 
of chest, 78 inches (1,982 mm.). 

Another, measured by Professor L. L. Dyche,^ was 97 inches 
(2,465 mm.) in length of body and head. 

A three-year-old bull that I measured in Wyoming was: 
In length, 102 inches (2,592 mm.); tail, 5I inches (140 mm.); 
hind-foot, 25 inches (635 mm.); height at withers, 47I inches 
(1,214 mm.). 

As extremes: Caton had a five-year-old bull Wapiti ovei 
16 hands (or 64 inches) at the withers,^ and C. Phillipps- 
Wolley records^ a Colorado bull, measured by Andrew Wil- 
liamson, at 17 hands, or 5 feet 8 inches, at the shoulder, 9 feet 
long, and 6 feet 8 inches around the chest; that is, 2 feet 
longer and 20 inches higher than the three-year-old specimen 
above mentioned. 

An adult cow, which I measured on the Graybull, in 
Wyoming, October 12, 1898, was: In length, 88 inches (2,237 

^American Natural History, 1904, p. 124. ^Ibid. 

^Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 81. 

° Big-Game Shooting, Vol. I, The Badminton Library, 1894, p. 406. 

Wapiti or Elk 39 

mm.); tail, 4^ inches (114 mm.); hind-foot, 25 inches (636 
mm.); height at withers, 56 inches (1,423 mm.). 

The three-year-old bull, whose dimensions are given weight 
above, weighed 550 pounds after bleeding; another three- 
year-old, taken at the same time and place, weighed 531^ 
pounds after bleeding. Judge Caton had a very large three- 
year-old that weighed 650 pounds, (^oc. cit.) He thought" 600 
pounds would exceed the average live weight of a full-grown 
buck, although he believed that they sometimes reached 1,000 
or 1,100 pounds. The bull measured by Hornaday, as above, 
was 706 pounds, live weight. 

M. P. Dunham states^ that he weighed an Elk at a 
little over 800 pounds after entrails were removed. This would 
give a live weight of about 1,000 pounds.^ 

We may safely affirm, then, that an average bull Wapiti 
at full growth stands nearly 5 feet at the withers, and weighs 
about 700 pounds. 

The cow, whose dimensions are given above, weighed 
490J pounds after bleeding. 

Hornaday found ^ that a new-born fawn or calf weighed 
3oi pounds. 

The body colour of a young bull Wapiti killed in Jack- colour 
son's Hole, Wyoming, September 10, is brownish gray, a 
little darker along the spine, and becoming dark chestnut 
or brown on head, neck, and legs, and reddish-brown or 
sienna colour on breast and belly. The inside and lower 
back part of ears, a patch around the eye, a spot on 
each side of the lower lip, and a spot under the jaw, are 
very pale brown or dull brownish white; the disk or rump 
patch is very large, of a pale, buffy white, and continued 
above the tail, which is of the same colour; bordering this 
patch in front, on each ham, is a brownish-black stripe 

•Loc. cit., p. 82. 

* Recreation Magazine, April, 1896, p. 193. 

•The rule for Deer is: Add a quarter to the dressed weight to find the live weight. 

•American Natural History, 1904, p. 122. 

40 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that nearly fades out toward the spine, where it joins its 
fellow. The peculiarities of the disk are diagnostic of the 
various species of Cervus. Some, like the Red-deer of 
Europe, have a dark mark crossing it from spine to tail, 
some have the tail of a different colour; the Wapiti has 
tail and disk of one even shade, or but slightly yellower 
above the tail. 

As this coat ages it fades greatly. In spring I have seen 
bulls so bleached that, at a distance, their bodies looked nearly 
white, thus justifying the name Wapiti (which is supposed to 
be from the Algonkin roots wah, white, and atik, deer) and 
the New England name of "Gray Moose." 

The summer coat, worn from May to September, is a 
little deeper in colour than the winter coat. 

The females, or cows, in summer coat resemble the males; 
but in fall and winter coat they are less intense in colour, and 
sometimes have a dark shade uniting the tail with the spine. 

The calf or fawn when born is dull yellowish, thickly 
dappled on body, neck, and thighs, with large spots of dull 
white. In late September, when the first winter coat appears, 
these spots are lost. 

Four forms of Wapiti are recognized : 

canadensis Erxl., the typical form. 

occidentalis H. Smith, the very dark Wapiti of the 

Olympics and West Coast. 
merriami Nelson, paler and more reddish than the 

typical form. 
lannodes Merriam, the very pale and dwarfed 

Wapiti of Southern California. 

They have also marked cranial differences. 

HISTORY In 1535 Jacques Cartier ascended the St. Lawrence as 

NAMES far as Hochelaga — now Montreal. On his return he re- 
ported*" "great stores of Stags, Deere, Beares, * * * other 

'"Hakluyt, Voyages, Vol. Ill, p. 225. 

Wapiti or Elk 41 

such like sorts of Beasts.'* He saw, then, two kinds of Deer. 
We know that both Whitetail and Wapiti abounded in the 
country where he wintered. The Wapiti has always been the 
"Stag" in Canada, as well as the "Stag" 0/ Canada. So this 
we believe to be the first record of the Wapiti being seen by 
white men. 

There is just a possibility that Cartier was antedated 
by Nina de Guzman, who, according to Herrara," in 
1532 explored the west coast of Mexico, near north 
latitude 28 degrees, and reported that "Many Cattle and 
many Deer of very large size were found on the banks of the 

In 1605 Captain George Waymouth, in his "Voyage to 
Virginia," found, according to Rosier,'- "Deere, red and fal- 
low, Befares, etc. * * * Some like our other Beasts, the Sav- 
ages signe unto us with horns and broad ears, which we take 
to be Olkes or Loshes." 

This is the earliest-known printed use of the word "Olkes" 
or "Elk" with reference to the American animal. It appears 
in the latter form in 1650, when Virginia is credited not only 
with abundance of Deer, but also with "Elks bigger than 
oxen. '^ 

Champlain's map (1632)'* marks the region of Kingston, 
Ontario, as "Lieu ou il y a force cerfs," and with a portrait 
of a stag, certainly not that of either a Virginian Deer, a Moose, 
or a Caribou. 

In 1653-4'^ Father Lemoine, voyaging on the St. Law- 
rence a few leagues above Montreal, found great droves 
of creatures, which from his description must have been 

After this date the number of travellers increased in 
America, and their accounts frequently included descrip- 

"Herrara, Hist. Ind. Oc, 1728, Tom. Ill, p. 16 (cited in Allen's American Bison, 
p. 518). 

"Purchas, Vol. IV, p. 1667. 

"Force, Coll. Hist. Trav., Vol. Ill, No. 11, p. 11. 

"Champlain's Voyages, 1632. 

"Relation de la Nouv. France, 1653-4, p. 85. 

42 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

tlons of the "Great Stag that was of the bigness of a 
Horse,'* and whose numbers were so great, in the high 
country, that their trails through the woods were convenient 
ways of travel. 

Thus Mark Catesby, in 1731, remarks" on "the Stag 
of America. * * >}; They usually accompany the Buffa- 
loes, with whom they range in droves in the upper and 
remote parts of Carolina, where, as well as in our other 
colonies, they are improperly called Elks. The French in 
America call this beast the Canada Stag. In New Eng- 
land it is known by the name of the Gray Moose, to dis- 
tinguish it from the preceding beast, which they call the 
Black Moose." 

In 1777 Erxleben recognized the Wapiti as a new animal 
and gave it the distinctive name of Canadensis. 

In March, 1806, Dr. B. S. Barton published^^ "An 
account of the Cervus Wapiti or Southern Elk of North 
America." He remarks: "As the Elk has not to my knowl- 
edge been described by any systematic writer on Zoology, 
I have assumed the liberty of giving it a specific name. I 
have called it Wapiti^ which is the name by which it is 
known among the Shawnese or Shawnees Indians. * * * 
This animal is generally known in Pennsylvania and in 
other parts of the United States by the name of Elk." 
{Loc. r/>., p. ^j.) 

This is the first use in print of the word "Wapiti," so far 
as known, and should settle several old disputes as to the origin 
and application of the name. 


RANGE Map 4 sets forth sufficiently the range of the various 

forms of Wapiti. It is founded on the records of over three 
hundred travellers and historians, and compiled with assist- 
ance from the Biological Survey of the United States De- 

'* Catesby, Nat. Hist. Car., Flor. and Bah. Ids., 11, 1731-43, p. xAuii. 
"Phila. Med. and Phys. Journal, March, 1806, Art. VII, pp. 36-55. 


The heavy outlines show the primitive range of each form. The shaded portion is the ranse in .000. 
logical Sun'^v'' '^ '^^'^ °" ""^ records and reports of several hundred ancient and modern traveUere. with some help from the U. S. Bio- 

The outlyinp records are marked with a cross. 
The four forms are : 

Cerous canadensis Erxl Cercu, nannoje, Merriam. 

i^ervus occidtnlalis H. Smith. Cervus merriami Nelson. Probably extinct. 


44 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

partment of Agriculture. The outlying records (marked with 
X on the map) are as follows: 

In Mexico by Guzman, as already given. 

On the north-west by Lord, who says, in 1866:*^ "It 
is found along the entire coast range from California to 

A single skull found in Nova Scotia^® seems to extend the 
range to that Province; an extension that one is fully prepared 
for, after a study of the faunal areas of the region. 

The Ottawa Valley was well known as Elk country until 
about one hundred years ago. According to W. P. Lett,^° 
Elk were quite numerous there in early days, and were seen as 
late as 18 14. Antlers are often found in the swamps of the 

H. Y. Hind says:" "Charles Tache enumerates the Elk 
and Ground-hog as common about the Saguenay previous to 
1823. * * * The Moose also was very common." 

At the Sportsman's Show, New York, March 2, 1899, 
L. Z. Joncas, Superintendent of Fish and Game for the 
Province of Quebec, exhibited three Wapiti heads taken near 
Lake Victoria, at the sources of the Ottawa, in Pontiac country, 
about 1896. Several small bands of the primitive Elk, he 
was told, still exist in those wilds. He personally did not fol- 
low the matter up, and the record is very questionable. 

The great Basin between the Rockies and the coast range 
seems never to have been the home of the Wapiti, at least I 
can find no records covering the region. 

numbS '^^^ early accounts of travel in Eastern America during 

the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries abound 
with descriptions of the "great stagge." 

Among these early writers we find frequent use of such 
terms as "immense bands," "great numbers," "great store," 
"covered with stags," etc., etc., describing the abundance of 

'^ J. K. Lord, Naturalist in Vancouver Id. and Br. Col., 1866, Vol. II, p. 182. 

»«W. Ogilby, P. Z. S., VII, 1839, pp. 93-94. 

""Trans. Ottawa Nat. Field Club, 1884, No. 5, pp. 101-117. 

*' Expl. Labrador Penin., 1863, Vol. I, p. 224. 

Wapiti or Elk 45 

the Wapiti. Dr. Barton, quoted above, says: "Within the 
memory of many persons now hving the droves of Elks 
w^hich used to frequent the saHnes west of the River 
Susquehanna, in Pennsylvania, were so great, that, for five 
or six miles leading to the 'licks,' the paths of these 
animals were as large as many of the great public roads of 
our country. " {Loc. cit.) 

But how are we to get an idea of their actual numbers in 
those days .? 

When I was living in Yellowstone Park, in 1897, I used 
all possible means to reach an estimate of the number of 
Wapiti it contained. The officials in charge agreed with me 
that there were fully 50,000 head. The actual park is 3,000 
square miles, but the winter range of these herds includes 
Jackson's Hole and some other outside territory, which in- 
creases the total area to 5,000 square miles, or ten Wapiti to 
the square mile. In this region the species is described as 

In early days the total range of this species was about 
2,500,000 square miles, over half of which it was, by all ac- 
counts, very abundant. We are safe, therefore, in believing 
that in those days there may have been 10,000,000 head. 

The beginning of the nineteenth century saw the Wapiti dwi.v- 
perfectly described, catalogued, and started on the road to 
extermination. Thenceforth, travellers in Eastern America 
were obliged to record only the reminiscences of old settlers 
or the discovery of fossil horns and skulls. 

A glance at Map 4 (page 43) will show the original and the 
present range of the species. 

A melancholy shrinkage is set forth, a shrinkage which 
went on with tremendous and increasing rapidity until near 
the end of the century. 

In Manitoba the Wapiti was found throughout the south- in maxi- 
western half of the Province. From Henry's Journal" we 

" A. Henr)''s Journal, 1897, p. 224, et seq. 

46 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

learn that it was particularly abundant along the Upper Red 
River and in the Pembina or Hair Hills. In 1857, when 
Professor Hind went through from Winnipeg to Fort Ellice, 
he saw but one Wapiti. It was in the sand-hills near the 
present town of Carberry, and its appearance put his half- 
breed guides in a state of excitement.^^ 

In 1882, when first I visited the Province, there were 
plenty of old antlers on the Carberry Sandhills. In the three 
years which followed I saw tracks three times, but once only 
did I see a Wapiti. This was a bull that was killed and 
brought to Carberry by some Indians in 1884. The head now 
hangs in the Western Hotel of that town. At that time the 
Wapiti was practically exterminated, except in the Pembina 
Hills and the Duck and Riding Mountains. 

The dwindling process went on everywhere till about 
1895. That was the low-ebb year in many parts of America 
for many kinds of game, but it was also the year of the great 
awakening. The lesson of the vanished BuiTalo had sunk 
deep in men's minds. Thinking people everywhere recog- 
nized that unless the methods then practised were stopped 
all our fine game animals would go the way of the Bufi^alo. 
They saw, too, that there was nothing to gain by extermina- 
tion, and much to lose. Game protective societies, founded 
in various parts of America by men who viewed with hate the 
approaching desolation of the wilds, have now secured sound 
legislation for the protection of harmless wild animals, and 
public sentiment has secured a rigorous enforcement of these 
new laws. Thus in many regions the process of extermination 
has been stopped. 

And not only has an end been put to extirpatory hunting, 
but the awakening has found its logical chmax in serious eff^orts 
to re-stock many of the deserted ranges. Several areas whence 
the species had long disappeared have been re-peopled with 
Wapiti. Noteworthy among these are the Algonquin Park and 
the Adirondack Mountains Park. The former is in charge of 

" Assin. and Sask. Expl. Exped., 1859, p. 41. 

Wapiti or Elk 47 

Government officials, but the latter has been re-stocked chiefly 
through the efforts of a private "Society for Restoration of 
the Moose, the Wapiti, and the Beaver to the Adirondacks." 

The energetic Secretary, Harry V. Radford, has sent me 
the following particulars: 

"The first liberations occurred in June, 1901, when 22 
Wapiti, donated to the State by the late William C. Whitney — 
a vice-president of the Restoring Association — were released 
on State land near Raquette Lake. Whitney donated addi- 
tional Wapiti in 1902 and 1903, his total gifts to the State 
reaching nearly 90. The Park Commissioners of the City of 
Binghamton, N. Y., contributed 5 Wapiti in 1903, and this 
spring (March, 1906) we obtained from Austin Corbin 26 
Wapiti, which were successfully released under the super- 
vision of State officials. 

"The latest estimate of the Commission (September, 
1905) placed the number of wild Wapiti in the Adirondacks 
at 250. Add to this number Corbin's donation and the 
natural increase since, and the number of Adirondack Wapiti 
at the present time, February 11, 1907, is close upon 400, and 
rapidly increasing. These are widely distributed, and seem 
to thrive even better than the native Deer. Additional dona- 
tions are expected, and a few more years ought to complete 
the restoration of the Wapiti.'* 

In Manitoba there are to-day, I believe, more Wapiti pri:sext 
than at any time since 1850. From Charles Barber, Chief ' 
Game Warden, I learn that In 1906 about 445, and in 
1907 365 Wapiti were legally killed in the Province. But 
the number killed by Indians and white hunters, and not 
recorded, must raise the annual total at least to 1,000. To 
stand this drain and still Increase as they do, the numbers 
must be fully five times as great, or, say, 5,000. I offer 
this as a conservative estimate of the numbers of Wapiti In 
Manitoba to-day (1907). 

Unfortunately, these extensions of range have been more 
than offset by the shrinkage elsewhere. 

48 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The present numbers may be thus estimated:" 

Yellowstone Park 20,000 

Wyoming, outside the Park 5,000 

Manitoba 5,000 

Idaho 5,000 

Montana 4,000 

Vancouver Island 2,000 

Washington 1,500 

Alberta 1,000 

Saskatchewan 500 

Oregon 200 

California 200 

British Columbia 200 

Minnesota 50 

In various Zoos, Parks, etc 1,000 

Total in 1907 45,650 

During the past ten years the number in Wyoming has 
decreased. On the other hand, in all regions where ade- 
quate protection has been accorded the number has in- 
creased; and there can be no doubt that, with a system of 
permanent safe havens, proper limitation of bags, and an 
absolute prohibition of repeating rifles and of the sale of game, 
we may keep these fine animals with us as long as we have 
wild land for them to range on — that is, forever. 

SIGNS As is usually the case with big game, one may be in a 

land abounding with Wapiti and see nothing of them for 
long, but the hunter cannot fail to see, on every hand, the 
little telltale "signs." 

During my hunting trip in the Shoshones, in October, 
1898, I saw many Wapiti, or Elk, as they are there called, 
and got none at all. But I got what I went for — a lot of 

^* In making this I have been assisted by Stanley H. Hopper, C. Phillipps-Wolley, 
W. T. Homaday, E. W. Darbey, George B. Grinnell, General S. B. M. Young, and the 
United States Biological Survey. 

Wapiti or Elk 49 

t-TuceT' "' "''' ''' ^'"^'^^^ ""' "«'- -h-h are 

fron. the middle below out at the top ,Sr™ Vr^lf 
track Its size and general character, together with the plac 
show tt to be that of a bull Elk. He was travelling towa d ' 
because m spue of us dimness, we can see a fainf sharpness 
a one of the track and a suggestion of squareness i^^ th 
other, showing the toe and heel marks, respectively, and also 
because on the bank, at the bottom, H, the tracks are short- 
ened, showmg that he was coming up. 

In case of doubt, one can sometimes determine the direc- 
non of a doubtful track by lightly brushing away the snow. 
The wet ground below may have a clearer impression, or a 
ball ot hard snow may remain to tell the tale. The track 
.s stale; but how stale .? Yesterday the wind came from the 
pomt he IS headed for, and last night came the fresh snow- 
therefore he IS twenty-four hours ahead, and though unalarmed 
-witness his easy stride and trailing toes-it might take 
several hours to come up with the maker of that track 

But the three we are following are quite fresh. A is the 
track of a big bull, because the hoof-mark is 5 inches long 
(4 inches would be middle-sized). His hoofs might be over- 
grown, but the tracks are wide apart, showing the thick body 
and he has fine antlers, because the cow went through a four-foot 
opening, which he avoided for a wider door. Also, the snow 
IS knocked off the lower branches where he passed, and a 
spike-horn rarely touches a branch with his antlers. 

That he is not alarmed is shown by his short steps and 
the lazy dragging of his toes, as well as by his hMng (K) to 
drop, an important hunter's sign. The track is fresh, because 
It was made since last night's snow, but it is at least an hour 
old because the sign at K is no longer hot; is sprinkled, in- 
deed, with hoar-frost. 

Here, at B, the bull "bedded." He was there for an hour 
at least, because the snow under him is melted. 

50 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The trail C is that of a full-grown cow; a cow, because at 
L the creature had stopped and straddled (told by the hoof- 
marks LH, LH) to leave the liquid sign; and full-grown, 
because the hoof-mark is 4 inches long. 

Her trail shows no sign of alarm. At D she lay down, 
but rose up after she had been long enough to melt the snow — 
perhaps an hour; looked about with the usual watchfulness of 
a cow, and lay down again in the same place for nearly as 
long, as shown by the second mark, not quite tallying with 
the first. 

The trail E is that of a calf of the year, born late in May, 
and not yet (October) quite weaned. He lay down by his 
mother. But see, each bed is still wet with melted snow, 
and the tracks that were a couple of hours old are now quite 
fresh. We have jumped the three Elk. 

They sprang up when they heard us coming through the 
woods. See the long strides of the bull as he trotted off, no 
longer trailing his toes; see how all three fell into line! But 
what is this sign at J ? That animal stayed to do something 
that all Deer do every few hours in cold weather, and nearly 
always on rising. She was not greatly alarmed (less so than 
the bull), or she would not have stayed, for the small quantity 
shows that she was not greatly pressed, therefore we may yet 
see them, for the Elk will swing round, probably to the left, 
as that is uphill, till they either see us or get our wind. Quick, 
now — a rapid advance — keeping a sharp lookout — here we 
are at the edge of an open glade, and there across it, gazing 
toward us, are the Elk. For a moment they stand, then up 
go their noses, and away they trot at speed, with the cow, as 
usual, in advance. 

SPRING- The great haven of the Rocky Mountain Elk is the 

Yellowstone Park. Thither, as the snow melts, the Elk bands 
wend their way from the lower winter range along the Snake 
River, and other Park-born streams. 

YOUNG Xhe cows remain in the rich upper valleys, but the bulls 

go on and form another social circle still higher up. The 

Photograph by E. T. Seton. 





Wapiti or Elk 51 

cows have important duties ere long. Some time in May or 
very early in June the portlier ones wander severally from the 
herd into some quiet hollow, where are born the fawns or 
calves, usually i to each mother, but sometimes 2, and 
rarely 3. For a few days (one or two according to Caton)" 
they are left concealed in the bushes after the manner of Deer, 
though for a shorter time than with most other kinds. The 
mother lurks in the neighbourhood and comes to suckle 
them at times, no doubt as the pressure of milk gives notice, 
and this is adjusted to the needs of the young. None can 
see them now without marvelling at their stillness. They 
feign to be logs, lumps, dead things, but all their pretty and 
lawful deceit is belied by the bright, unblinking eyes, which 
take in every movement of whoever happens to find them. 
The white spots, so far from making the croucher conspicuous 
under the leaves, look like the dappling spots of sunlight 
glancing through foliage on a log or ground below. They are, 
indeed, a valuable piece of protective colouration. 

For some days the calf is thus hidden; and even after it 
is old enough to follow the mother she will hide it on the 
appearance of danger. How it is made to understand the 
danger — whether by signal from the mother or by sighting 
the menace — I have not been able to determine. Late in 
June, on the Yellowstone, I saw the cow Elks in bands and 
the calves running with the mothers. 

I once saw a fawn that was born so late that on October 
15 he was still in his full spots. He was, in fact, not yet 
running with his mother, and must have been, therefore, less 
than a week old. I saw her come to feed him. After he had 
sucked as much as she thought proper, he teased her so much 
that she ran away. He persisted in following, but she took 
refuge in a water-hole, standing where it was nearly three feet 
deep. He circled all round the edge, but did not dare to wet 
his feet. 

In September the spots on most of the calves are much 
faded, and, when their new coats come, with October, the 

" Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 294. 

52 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

spots usually disappear. Now the young are able to forage 
for themselves. The drain on the mother becomes less, and 
gradually ceases; and as the pasturage is now rich and abun- 
dant, all become sleeker and fatter with every week, September 
finding them in perfect condition. 

WALLOWS In many parts of Colorado and Wyoming during fall I 
have seen earth wallows made by Wapiti. These are accred- 
ited to the bull. He is known, indeed, to wallow in them like 
a hog, whether as an amusement or as an instinctive sanitary 
measure is not ascertained. 

On September 8, 1898, I was witness of a most in- 
teresting social function attended by a number of Wapiti. 
It was at a small upland lake in Jackson's Hole, when, about 
4 p. M., a band of Elk, nine in all, came trotting from the 
woods, led by a cow, but with a bull bringing up the rear. 
They plunged into the water and played there for some time, 
rolling, wallowing, splashing, and chasing each other. The 
scene was somewhat like a social bathing at a fashionable 
watering-place. At last their game was ended by the dis- 
covery of my presence. 

DANCE But the grand curious amusement of the Elk, one which 

several hunters have witnessed, may be called their ** circle 
dance." H. W. Skinner, of Chicago, sends me his observa- 
tions on this performance: 

"About four o'clock one afternoon, late in August, 1890, 1 
was riding north-east up a small stream flowing into one of the 
tributaries of the Green River, near its source in north-western 
Wyoming. The intense heat was relieved only by an occa- 
sional faint breath of breeze from the north. My attention 
was attracted by a column of fine dark-brown dust rising 
ahead of me and on the opposite side of the creek (I was on 
the south side). The column of dust looked almost as if 
caused by a whirlwind. On reaching a point as close to it 
as I could get without crossing the creek — I was perhaps 100 
yards from it — I found that it was caused by a band of Elk, 
numbering from twelve to twenty, who seemed to be trotting 

Wapiti or Elk 53 

quite rapidly, with occasional awkward galloping plunges, in a 
circle perhaps thirty feet in diameter. They were going in the 
same direction as the hands of a watch, in the edge of a little 
belt of second-growth timber — mainly, I think, quaking asp. 
They were moving, not with heads up, but with noses only a 
foot or two from the ground. My impression is that they were 
all bulls. Owing to the dense clouds of dust which occasional 
light puffs of wind blew almost toward me, I could not see 
very clearly. It seemed to me that they were running about 
as "milling" cattle do, except that I never knew of cattle to 
"mill" in such a small bunch. I have related this incident 
several times to hunters and trappers, who could offer no 
explanation of it. There were large numbers of Elk in that 
country at the time, in bands of various sizes." 

This remarkable exercise differs from the preceding in 
that it has obvious relation either to the sexual instinct or to 

The natural history of monogamy is an interesting sub- matlvg 
ject that is receiving some attention. In a recent number of 
the Contemporary Review, Dr. Woods Hutchinson claims^" 
that in the long run a monogamous race will triumph over a 
polygamous one. He might have gone further, and pointed 
out the facts that among birds the Pigeons as a family, and 
among quadrupeds the CanidcB, are considered among the 
most successful, that is, families which are spreading, and can 
hold their own against all rivals, including man, and that 
these two are strictly monogamous. Theoretically, polygamy 
should be better for the race, since only the very finest 
males leave progeny. Judge Caton has recorded" a curious 
case that sheds light on this. Referring to Sultan, the great 
bull Wapiti, that was monarch of the herd in his park for a 
longer time than any other, he says: 

"At first his progeny were reasonably numerous, but 
during the last few years of his life they gradually diminished 

** Animal Marriage, Contemporary Review, London, October, 1904, pp. 485-96. 
" Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, pp. 294-5. 

54 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

from a dozen to a single fawn in 1875, with about twenty-five 
females, more than half of which had previously produced 

Though able to hold the harem by force, he was removed 
and replaced by a younger buck. The result was twelve 
fawns the next season, including one pair of twins. 

As the Elk is the most polygamous of all Deer (in America, 
probably in the world), it is interesting to note that it is the 
first of the family to disappear before civilization. This may 
be due in part to its large size, but it is further remarkable 
that the most successful of all our Deer (the common White- 
tail) is the least polygamous. In this connection we may 
consider the question of leadership, that is, the rudiments of 

There is a widespread idea that the big bull is, as a matter 
of course, the leader of the Wapiti herd. This is not the case. 
It is well to remember how the animals get their leader. 
They certainly do not have any formal election, but they have 
instead a sort of natural election or process of elimination. 
This is the process: The individual in that band who can 
impress on the others that he is the wise one — the safe one 
to follow — eventually becomes the leader, and if there are any 
members of the band who do not wish to follow him, they 
have an obvious alternative — to go the other way. Thus 
the herd reaches unanimity. 

Numberless observations show that this wise one is not 
the big bull, but almost invariably an elderly female. The 
big bull might drive them, but not lead them. She is the one 
that has impressed the others with the idea that she is safe 
to follow — that she will lead into no fool-traps; that she 
knows the best pastures and the best ways to them; that she 
has learned the salt-licks, and the watering-places that are 
safe and open all around; that her eyes and ears are keen; 
and that she will take good care of herself and incidentally 
of the band. This female leadership is common to most, if 
not all, horned ruminants. One may ask, therefore, if it be 
not also a corollary of polygamy. 

Wapiti or Elk 55 

The crowning glory of the stag is his antlers, and the antlers 
Wapiti, the finest stag in the world, has antlers befitting his 
size and dignity. 

While the cows among the mountain valleys devote all 
summer to the calves, the bulls at a much higher elevation, 
above the torment of heat and flies, have consecrated their 
entire energies to the growing of new antlers. If it were not 
like arguing in an egg-and-chicken circle, we might claim that 
the production of these antlers is the whole end and aim of 
the Wapiti's existence. Their growth is one of the miracles 
of nature that we never cease to consider a miracle. 

About the end of the winter — that is, in mid-March — the 
antlers of the year before break off flush with their horny 
base an inch or more above the skull. Frequently they are 
found lying close together, showing that they fall nearly at the 
same time. 

At first the place of each antler is a broad raw spot. A 
few days later it shows a thick rounded pad of blood-gorged 
skin. This swells rapidly and, in a fortnight, the great, bulbous, 
fuzzy young antler-beginning has shot up to a height of several 
inches. At exactly the right time and place, and in just the 
right direction, a bump comes forth to be the foundation of 
the brow tine. In a few days the bez-tine is projected by the 
invisible architect. In a month the structure is nearly a foot 
high and all enveloped in a turgid mass of feverish, throbbing 
blood-vessels — the scaffolding and workmen of this wonderful 
structure. Night and day the work is pushed with astounding 
speed, and in four months this "skyscraper" is finished. A 
marvel, indeed; an edifice that, according to ordinary rules, 
would have taken a lifetime, and yet it has been rushed through 
in a single summer. 

August sees the building done, but it is still cluttered 
with scaffolding. The supplies of blood at the base are now 
reduced. But the antler is still in vital touch with the animal; 
it begins to die when the process of peeling is begun. The 
sensitiveness leaves each part, the velvet covering soon dries, 
cracks, and peels, and the stag assists the process of clearing 

56 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

off the skin by scraping his new antlers on the brushwood. 
September sees him fully armed in his bony spears, strong in 
body, glorying in his weapons and his strength, and ready to 
battle with all comers. 

Those who have studied the Washington Monument will 
remember the dark weather-mark which came when the Civil 
War stopped the growth of the structure for a time. They 
will recognize the signs of slow growth at the massive base, 
the stones contributed by the various States, when their 
reverent patriotism was roused, and the less eventful ending 
as the point was reached. In the same way the stag's antlers 
are a record of the life that grew them, brought them forth 
in fever heat, produced with a rush at enormous cost, drain- 
ing all the bodily resources for a time. The faintest slacking 
of the supplies, an excess of antler material in the food, the 
slightest weakening of the heart that is backing the enterprise, 
an injury to the sexual organs that inspired it, or any hurt 
on the growing antler, a cold, an attack of indigestion — is re- 
flected at once in the structure that is a-building. The most 
vigorous constitution produces the finest antlers. A stag too 
young or too old produces antlers which are below standard. 
All antlers are a reflex of the owner's vicissitudes while he was 
growing them. What wonder, then, that no two antlers are 
alike! The thousand different haps have produced a thousand 
different types. Most of these must be accepted as strange 
instances due to unexplained causes; "freak horns," the 
hunters call them. They are beyond our present com- 

Through the kindness of his Grace the Duke of Bedford 
I am enabled to show a series of antlers, the successive 
growths of one bull Wapiti that lived in the Park at Woburn 
Abbey. (Fig. 2.) 

The second of the spikes grown in his first year was never 
found, but it was very small. The two switches (No. 8 in the 
series) were grown in a year of sickness. The stag was weak 
and ill without known cause, and shed not only his horns, 
but the two large hoofs of each foot, going sore-footed for 

Fig. 2— The antlers of one Wapiti 
Beginning at the ..^r/I^h^'T'" '"''''''''' ''^ ''"^"" '''"=""''<= "f Bedford. 

kept in the park at Woburn Abbey. ^ ^'^'^ "'^ '''"«''• This individual was 


\ // 

58 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

weeks. The small hind hoofs, however, were not shed. In 
his tenth year the stag was evidently on the decline, so he was 
killed for the museum. 

Some freak antlers are shown on page 6i. (Figs. 9-14.) 
One of the most remarkable cases is the finding of three ant- 
lers on one head. Occasionally does (or "cows," as they are 
called) are found with rudimentary antlers. In the Jardin des 
Plantes is a doe that grows two antlers each year, on one side 
of her head. (Fig. 8.) Stags of the European Red-deer are 
sometimes found permanently hornless. I have not heard of 
any such among the Wapiti, but expect that they will be 

The highly developed antler, however, is the most in- 
teresting. The typical form is shown in Plate I. Keeping 
this general symmetry, additional points are scored for ad- 
ditional size, aggregate length of beams and tines, number of 
points, weight, beading, and colour. 

The antlers are second-class if they are under 55 inches in 
length of main beam, following the curves. 
S^^^o° The largest Rocky Mountain head of which I can find 

HEADS ... 

record is in possession of the Montana Armory. It is known 
as the 2i-point head. I have not seen it, but the beams are 
said to be 66J and 64I inches long, respectively, and the spread 
52 inches. (Fig. 6.) 

The largest antlers that I have measured are in the pos- 
session of Messrs. Schoverling, Daly & Gales, of New York, 
the right beam being 64 inches long, the left 6ot. (Fig. 4.) 

A 61-inch pair shot in Wyoming by Lewis S. Thompson, 
of Redbank, N. J., is near the first place in size, as well as in 
symmetry. (Fig. 7.) 

A fine i8-point head is shown in Fig. 5. I saw it in the pos- 
session of S. N. Leek, of Jackson's Hole, Wyoming, where it 
was killed in 1896. 

But most judges give the palm for beauty to a superb 
20-point head shown by A. L. Tulloch at the American Trophy 
Exhibition at London, 1898. (Fig. 3.) Its size and points have 
been exceeded, but its massive beams, perfect symmetry, and 


Fig. 8— Cow Elk with horns, in Jardin des Plantes. 


60 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

wonderful pearling are so far unrivalled. The animal was 
killed in Montana in 1883. 

What becomes of these wonderful growths ? Why is not 
the forest littered with them, since they are dropped and re- 
newed each year ? 

First, the forest is littered with them to some extent in 
districts where the Elk abound. In several parts of the West 
I have seen small garden fences made of the cast-off antlers, 
and I am told that in California it was common to see a rotted 
survey stake replaced by a pile of Elk horns, which were the 
handiest and most abundant substitute. But still their num- 
bers are nothing compared with what one might expect. If 
they were as durable as stones they would be as plentiful as 
stones in an ordinary Montana valley. The explanation is 
that they are easily destroyed by the elements and are habit- 
ually preyed on by Mice and other rodents. In all the thou- 
sands of shed Elk horns that I have picked up or seen in the 
West, I do not think I ever saw one that was not more or less 
gnawed by Mice, Rats, Gophers, or Porcupines. 

The skull of the Elk may resist the weather for twenty 
years, the horns may crumble in half that time. As Caton 
long ago showed,-* while bone is one-third animal matter or 
gelatine, the antler substance is "about 39 parts animal 
matter and 61 parts earthy matter of the same kind and pro- 
portions as is found in common bone"; besides which the inner 
structure of the antler is exceedingly porous or cellular. " Soon 
ripe, soon rotten," is a North-of-England proverb that has a 
bearing on this case. 

If the antler is the life-aim of the bull Wapiti and the sole 
end of the antler is the battle, then is the autumn in his years 
of perfect prime the crowning epoch of the great stag's life. 
Then from the mountain, whither he retired last spring, he 
descends to the level of the cows. 

Fat and well-favoured is he become. A new blue coat 

*® Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 169. 

Fig. 9— George A. Clark, Colorado. 


Fig. 12— Carter Collection, Colorado. 
Kjjeria Park, 1894. 

FiGv 10 — Carter Collection, Colorado. 
Egeria Park, 1877. 

Fig. 13 — Colorado, 1900. W. McFadden. 

Fig. II — Three-horned Manitoba head. 
F. W. Stobart. January, 1887. 

Fig. 14 — The W. W. Hart twenty-eight-point head. 
The record lilk for potats. 


62 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

has replaced the rusty brown; his beard is not so long as in 
late winter, but it is full, dark, and trim; his neck is swollen; 
his muscles are tense; he is tingling with life and vigour; 
and, above all, his antlers are perfect, new grown, clean, and 
sharp — heavier now than they will be later. A new feeling 
comes over both sexes — first in the bull, with overwhelming 
power; next in the cow, with lesser force. 
THE WAR Filled with courage and desire, proud of his horns, and 

CRY • • • r» 

conscious of his strength, this greatest bull of the valley, gets 
up on some commanding ridge, fills his lungs, and raising his 
muzzle, he pours forth a tremendous guttural roaring that rises 
in pitch to trumpet tones, higher and higher, till it breaks into 
a shrill screaming whistle, then fades and drops again to the 
guttural, concluding with a few savage grunts. This is the 
world-famed bugling of the Elk. I have heard it likened to 
the braying of a jackass, but among those who know it in its 
native mountains, there is only one opinion — that it is the 
most inspiring music in nature. Here is this magnificent 
creature, nearly half a ton in weight, strong as a bull, fierce as 
a lion, in all the glory of his new antlers, proud of them, sur- 
rounded already by a band of his cows. He is challenging 
all the world to a fight; he is prepared to stake his all on the 
issue. *' I am out to fight," he roars, in tones that tell of his 
huge round chest, "my horns are clean and sharp, I am big 
and strong, I fear no living thing. On this fight I will stake 
my range, my family, my social position, my limbs, my life." 
The martial clamour borne over hill and valley can scarcely fail 
to reach others of the same kind and in the same mood. Soon 
the distant woods give forth reply — the bugled answer of some 
other knight — maybe one like himself, with many possessions 
in the form of wives, to stake — maybe a youngster, just com- 
ing into his strength, with nothing to risk but life and limb, with 
all his fortunes yet to make, and glad to get his chance. 

But the deep bugle-notes are characteristic of the prime 
bull. Younger bulls are often called "squealers," and, being 
more numerous, they are responsible for the bugling being 
sometimes called "whistling." 

Wapiti or Elk 63 

J. A. Ricker, of Denver, related to me an incident that he 
witnessed on two different occasions. One day, November i, 
1899, while hunting in Routt County, Colorado, he heard a 
bull Elk whistle. He got off his horse and, sneaking over a 
ridge, saw the bull in a hollow with three cows. Suddenly 
a reply to the challenge came from a distant bull that had 
a splendid bugle-note, winding up with three separate toots. 
The bull near at hand no sooner heard this than he dashed at 
the nearest cow, prodding her severely with his horns, then 
at the others, driving them as fast as he could away from the 
direction of the other bull. Evidently he was afraid to risk 
a fight with the owner of that voice. 

It is rarely that a wild Elk will go out of its way to attack plg- 
a man, but this has happened more than once. Charles H. '""'^^^^^ 
Stonebridge, of New York, vouches for the following: 

About two years ago John Legg, one of the ranchers in 
the Valley of the Stinking Water, Wyoming, had been up in the 
mountains hunting and was returning with his trophies on a 
pack-horse. The trail from the Continental Divide runs 
along the bank of the river and is very dangerous in a great 
many places. After coming down about forty miles, Legg 
came to a particularly bad part of the trail; nothing more, in 
fact, than a shelf about two feet wide on the side of a cliff and 
extending for about three hundred feet. On one side there 
was a sheer wall of rock, on the other a sheer fall to the canon 
below. A single misstep meant instant death. Legg had 
been over this trail many times with the horses he was then 
using, and, without hesitation, drove his pack animal before 
him. When about half-way across he was suddenly confronted 
by a large bull Elk, coming from the other direction. The 
Elk seemed to consider that he had right of way, as without a 
moment's hesitation he lowered his head, dashed at the pack- 
horse and hurled it over the cliff into the caiion below, 
where it was instantly killed. Having got rid of the pack- 
horse, the bull now turned on the saddle-beast, and Legg was 
in imminent peril. It was impossible for him to get off his 


64 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

horse on either side, or turn around, and the least misstep of 
his horse would have thrown both over the cliff. The horse, 
however, remained perfectly quiet. The rider drew his revol- 
ver, as the Elk charged, and by one shot sent him crashing 
down the canon below almost on top of his victim. Legg 
crossed to the other side and worked his way to the bottom of 
the caiion. Here he found his pack-horse terribly smashed 
and the stuff he carried more or less injured. He secured 
the blankets and other things not broken and, loading them 
on his saddle-horse, returned to his ranch on foot. 

THE We all love to see a fight when not personally in danger. 

I have tried many times to see a real Wapiti duel. I have heard 
them in the woods more than once, but never actually saw 

In October, 1900, I was witness of a curious incident in a 
trifling Wapiti skirmish near Richmond, Va. A fine big bull 
Elk was bugling in the woods of the Elk Park. A smaller 
bull, a 4-pointer, replied with a whistle, then came on in slow 
and stately march. They locked horns rather deliberately, 
but the second bull was too light. Again and again he was 
forced backward, and broke away to save himself. After 
resting each time some fifty yards off, he would shake his 
head, squeal and try again, with no better success. At length, 
the big bull put a little more fife into his attack and drove the 
young one afar. As he returned, a cow Elk came out of the 
woods and, at the same time, from under a few sprigs of brush 
on the much-trampled battle-ground, there rose a spotted 
fawn, which had been crouching there during the lively fight 
which was all around him. Whether the bulls were careful 
not to crush him, or whether he escaped injury by accident, 
I do not know, but I suspect the latter. 

W. A. Baillie-Grohman, the well-known sportsman, was 
witness of a tremendous fight. His description is well worth 
reproducing:^^ The author was camped in the mountains of 
western Wyoming, and one moonlight night in "bugling time" 

^^ Sport and Life in British Columbia, 1900, pp. 80-81. 

Wapiti or Elk 05 

went forth afoot, when the woods were astir with Wapiti. 
After seeing a large bull scatter a band of small ones he saw 
a second prime fellow come bugling into the lists, and once 
they had clashed together Baillie-Grohman came up within 
thirty yards, knowing, says he, from former experience, that 
"probably I might have walked close to the stags without 
interrupting the tussle; but I was afraid that one or the other, 
or both, might turn against me, as I knew our European Red- 
deer do during the rutting season, and an Express [rifle] is 
but a poor weapon at night time. So I kept at a respectful 
distance, some twenty or thirty yards from cover, and from 
there I watched the fight for quite half an hour. For several 
minutes at a time the antlers appeared inextricably locked 
together, and as one of the stags seemed the stronger, though 
not the more agile of the two, superior weight would in those 
moments enable the heavier animal to fling his adversary from 
side to side, without, however, being able to free his own horns 
wherewith to do grievous injury to his foe. Before long, one 
was on his knees, pressed down, apparently by main force; 
then the other, staggering back, would for a brief moment halt 
before rushing with deadly intent at his adversary; but by the 
time he had regained his breath and was ready for the on- 
slaught the foe was on his legs again and antler crashed against 
antler with a force that seemed irresistible. The heavier of the 
two stags appeared to be well aware of the one advantage his 
superiority in weight gave him, for the tactics just described 
were repeatedly tried by him, only to be foiled by his agile ad- 
versary, who invariably managed to regain his feet and receive 
the charge with lowered head and antlers en garde. The com- 
batants had moved about the meadow, much as expert boxers 
would, though after a quarter of an hour's fighting weight had 
told its tale, and the smaller stag had to retreat more frequently 
than ever, and the adversaries were fast approaching the edge 
of the forest at the latter's back. Here a last stand was made 
by the defeated one, and a ten-minutes' tussle ended by bring- 
ing both onto their knees; and here, too, the repulsed one 
received his death wound, though I failed to see exactly how it 


66 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

was inflicted, the movements being so rapid and the light too 
indistinct. It appeared to me, however, that the weaker stag, 
on regaining his feet first, made a dash at his foe, but from 
some cause or other his lunge missed its aim and, while the 
impetus carried him past his still kneeling adversary, his 
whole flank was exposed to the thrust of the latter's horns. 
The next second he was down, too, but this time with a heavy 
thud, stretched out at full length, just out of reach of the kneel- 
ing victor, who, too exhausted to rise, kept butting at the body 
which he could not reach. A minute later they were both up 
again, but the battle was decided, and the wounded hart fled 
into the forest, where I found him next morning dead, with a 
ghastly slash two feet in length that had ripped open his side 
and penetrated his vitals." 

THE There may be another finish to the combat — a finish that 

is even more final. The knights have clashed together, the 
strong and springy antlers have yielded a little under shock 
of onset, but sprung together locked — locked so firmly that now 
there is no fencing, nothing but pushing and wrestling. It is 
as if each held the sword-wrist of his foe in a riveted clutch, 
and when at length one of the wrestlers would spring back to 
avoid defeat or for a better thrust, he finds himself absolutely 
bound to his foe, with antlers intertwined. Try as he may, he 
cannot wrench them free. Strong and weak alike are now 
face to face with a lingering death. Many a time have two 
carcasses been seen thus antler-bound. Several times White- 
tailed Deer have been found thus — one still alive, the other 
dead a day or two, the stronger just able to drag his fallen foe 
enough so he could gather a little food, that could but prolong 
his misery. More than once the first to die has been partly 
eaten by Wolves, which the other feebly struggled to avoid. A 
score of times I have seen the remains of this among the smaller 
Deer, but only once have I found it among the Wapiti. 

It is years ago now, at the Palette Ranch, on the head- 
waters of the Greybull, where choicest elk-lands sloped to 
buffalo-plains, in a little valley where it all befell, I saw the 

Wapiti or Elk 67 

records and the proofs. Here was the harrowed earth where 
the fight took place, here, on the battle-ground, the lankened 
forms of the knights, big and of even might. The Wolves had 
picked their frames, but the peeling skulls were there, with the 
two great pairs of branching gear inextricably locked and 
gripped and interlocked. In fancy's eye I saw the tragic end- 
while with the living eye I saw, not far away, a skurrying herd 
of cows with the lesser bull that had inherited what his betters 
had battled for in vain. 


The Northern Whitetail, Northern Whitetailed Deer, 
or Northern Virginian Deer. 

Odocoileus virginianus borealis Miller. 

(Gr. Odous, a tooth, and koilos, a hollow or cave, badly Latinized by Rafinesque into 
Odocoileus, should have been Odontocoelus ; probably given because the type tooth 
was found in a cave; L. virginianus, of Virginia; L. borealis, of the north.) 

■ Cervus virginianus BoDD., 1 784, Elen. Ani., I, p. 136. 
Odocoileus virginianus Merriam, 1 898, Proc. Biol. See. 
Wash., April 30, XII, p. 100. 

Type Locality. — Virginia. 

Odocoileus americanus borealis Miller, 1900, Key to Land 
Mammals N. E. Am., Bull. N. Y. State Mus., p. 83. 

Odocoileus virginianus borealis G. M. Allen, 1901, Am. 
Nat., June, 1901, p. 450. 

Type Locality. — Bucksport, Maine. 

French Canadian, le Dain fauve a queue blanche; 

le Chevreuil; le Cerf de Firginie. 
Cree & OjiB., Wab-ai-ush' (Whitetail). 
Yankton Sioux, Tah-chah Tseen-tay-skah. 
Ogallala Sioux, T ah-heen-cha' -lah (Deer). 

The genus Odocoileus (Rafinesque, 1832) has, in addition 
to all the family characteristics: Antlers in the male only; no 
brow or bez-tines, but an upright snag near the base inside; 
a metatarsal or mid-leg gland on outer side; tail, long; no 
canine teeth; the distal or lower ends of the metacarpals or 
outer front toes, remaining; young, spotted. Teeth as in 
Cervus^ but canines rarely present. 
GENERAL Thc Virgiuiau Deer is easily distinguished from the Mule- 


TERs deer and Coast Deer group by the form of its antlers (Fig. 16), 
which have one main beam, bending forward and bearing the 
tines behind, also by the metatarsal or mid-leg gland on the outer 
side of the hind shank (Fig. 1 5), which is about i inch long in the 


'^S, ^.. ^ . -■-^■. 


■ ■* ^ ■■1_- 




Whitetailed Deer 


Fig. 15 — Left hind leg of Mule-deer (i), Coast Deer (2), 
and Whitetail (3), to show the size of the metatarsal 
glands, respectively, 5, z, and i inch long. 

Virginian Deer, 2 inches in the Coast Deer, and about 5 in the 
Mule-deer. The tails also are very distinctive, as will be seen 
on reference to Fig. 17. 

The Northern White- 
tail is much larger than the 
typical form from Virginia, 
being nearly double the 
weight of the latter; the 
Whitetail group present, in- 
deed, a complete gradation 
of size from the pygmy Aca- 
pulco Deer found in Mexico, 
or the Florida Deer a little 
larger, to the giant form of 
Maine and Manitoba. 

Caton considered the Acapulco Deer the smallest of the 
North American species. None of the specimens he had 

weighed over thirty 
or forty pounds.' 

Bucks of the 
Florida Deer are 
commonly said to 
be about eighty 
pounds or ninety 
pounds, and, ac- 
cording to Cory,^ 
not often over no 
pounds. The does 
are proportion- 
ately less in weight. 
A fine adult male of the Northern form (No. 1 04891 
U. S. N. M.), killed November 15, 1900, near Floodwood on the 
St. Louis River, sixty miles west of Duluth, Minn., I measured 
in the flesh, as follows: 

Length, 6 feet 5I inches (1,970 mm.); tail, ii§ inches 

'Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 121. 

'C. B. Cory, Hunting and Fishing in Florida, 1896, p. 63. 

Fig. 16 — Typical antlers of Whitetail (i) and of Mule-deer (2). 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

(292 mm.); hind-foot, 2o| inches (520 mm.); height at 
shoulders, 3 feet 5 inches (1,042 mm.); body, ischium to 
manubrium, 4 feet 2 inches (1,271 mm.); depth at chest, 16 


Fig. 17 — The tails and discs of: i. New England Whitetail. 2. Colorado Mule-deer. 3. Oregon 
Coast Deer. 4. Wyoming Wapiti. 5. British Red-deer. 

inches (406 mm.); elbow to ground, 26 inches (661 mm.); 
length of head, nose to occiput, 13I inches (343 mm.); length 
of ear, 9 inches (228 mm.). 
WEIGHT The weight of the carcass (gutted) was 222 pounds, which 

would give a live weight of about 280 pounds. Another 
, specimen, taken about the same time and place, was 150 pounds 
in weight, that is, about 190 pounds live weight. The maxi- 
mum weight of the Northern Whitetail is commonly given 
at 350 pounds, but I find good testimony for considerably 

In 1877 a large buck was shot in Franklin County, Adi- 
rondack, N. Y., by John T. Denny, of New York. It weighed 
286 pounds dressed, which would give 357 pounds live 

JohnW.Titcomb, of the United States Bureau of Fisheries, 
writes me that a buck weighing 370 pounds was killed in Ver- 
mont in 1899. 

One that weighed when dressed 299I pounds, or 375 
pounds live weight," was killed in Essex County, N. Y., by 
Albert H. Thomas, of Warrensburg, N. Y., 

A still larger animal was shot by Warren S. Potter, of Glens 
Falls, N. Y., shortly before 1896, at Thirteenth Pond, Warren 

^First Annual Report Com. F. G. & F., N. Y. S., 1896, p. 200. *Ibid. 

Whitetailed Deer 71 

County, N. Y. It weighed 318 pounds dressed, which means 
a Hve weight of 400 pounds/ 

The most remarkable Adirondack buck, that I can find 
authenticated, was killed by Henry Ordway near Mud Lake, 
in 1890, and is described by James M. Patterson in Col. Fox's 
Forestry Report, as follows:" "Weight, before being dressed, 
388 pounds [bleeding and drying must have robbed it of fully 
12 pounds, so that its live weight was about 400 pounds]; 
height over withers, 4 feet 3 inches. There are 9 prongs 
on one antler and 10 on the other. Length of antlers, 32 
inches; distance between antlers, 26 J inches; length from tip 
of nose to tip of tail, 9 feet 7 inches." To this A. N. 
Cheney adds:^ *'I have talked with Mr. Patterson (who 
is a brother of ex-District Attorney Patterson, of Warren 
County) since his letter was printed, and he added to the 
figures given, that the Deer measured i^"] inches around the 
neck back of the head, and that the longest spike on one beam 
was 13 inches. The buck had been seen on several occasions, 
during two or more years, before it was secured, and a number 
of sportsmen had made several efforts to kill it. It appeared 
to have no fear of dogs that were put on its track, and on one 
occasion attacked and drove off two." 

But these are the giants of their kind. The average 
dressed weight of 562 Deer shipped out of the Adirondacks 
by the express company in 1895 was only 109^ pounds, a live 
weight of 136^ pounds each;* but this included many small 
Deer and August specimens of all ages and sexes. An average 
full-grown doe of the region weighs about 150 pounds (live 
weight) and an average buck 200 pounds. Bucks of 300 
pounds weight are killed every year. 

In its summer (or red) coat this Deer is a dull rusty red colour 
or yellowish brown, paler around the eyes and much darker on 
the upper side of tail, with a black spot on each side of the 

^Ibid., p. 201. ^Ihid., p. 200. '' Loc. cit., p. 201. 

nv. F. Fox, Rep. Supt. Forests N. Y., First Annual Report Com. F. G. & F., N. Y. S , 
1896, p. 200. 

72 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

chin; while the band across the nose, the ring around each eye, 
the inside of each ear, the patch on the throat, the inside of each 
leg, the under side of the tail, and the region under the tail 
and belly are white. 

In winter (or blue) coat the red is replaced by gray. 

The sexes are alike in colour. 

The young are bright bay or dull reddish yellow, spotted 
with pure white, but lose this coat when about four months old. 

The following races are recognized: 

virginianus Bodd., the typical form. With lower 
tooth-row of cheek 3 inches long (75 mm.) ; winter 
coat not very different from that of summer. 

borealis Miller, paler in colour and much larger than 
virginianus (nearly double). Lower tooth-row of 
cheek 3I inches long (85 mm.) ; winter coat much 
coarser and grayer than summer coat. 

macrourus Raf., paler than virginianus. 

leucurus Douglas, with little or no black and much 

texanus Mearns, much smaller and paler than the 
typical form. 

osceola Bangs, in size like texanus, but very dark 
in colour. 

louisiance G. M. Allen, in size like the typical, but 
pale and with slender skull. 

DIRECT- The sportsman-hunter, however, pays little heed to the 

MARKS colours and fine distinctions on which the scientist founds his 
species and races. He usually lumps the twenty-odd species 
and races of small American Deer as "Deer," and carries a 
general impression of a deer-coloured animal, paler on the 
under parts. This is a true impression as far as it goes; indeed, 
I know of no colour feature on the animal's trunk by means of 
which the various species may be distinguished. Nevertheless, 
nature has added a label to each, and, as though by kindly plan, 
this is the last part of the animal that the hunter sees as it dis- 

Whitetailed Deer 73 

appears in the woods. The tail and disk are totally different 
in each species. If every sportsman would bring the tail of his 
Deer (or failing that, make a sketch of it), with a note of its 
length, and the locality where he found it, we could tell with 
fair certainty the species he had got or seen. 

One Thomas Hariot, an English mathematician in the dis- 


service of Sir Walter Raleigh, visited Virginia in 1584. In his 
account of the colony he says:" 

'Of* * * Deare, in some places there are great store; 
neare to the sea-coast, they are of the ordinairie bignes as 
ours in England, and some less; but further up in the coun- 
trey where there is better feed, they are greater. They differ 
from ours only in this, their tailes are 'longer, and the snags 
of their homes look backwards." 

There is no doubt that Cartier saw the Whitetail at Mon- 
treal in 1535, but Master Hariot, the mathematician, has given 
us the first identifiable description of the species. It is there- 
fore with reason called the "Virginian Deer." 


Since then we have traced the animal throughout its range 
entire range, and naturalists have discriminated between the 
various species and races, as set forth on the accompanying 
map (No. 5). 

This map illustrates an interesting fact in Whitetail 
distribution: that while the species has lost much territory 
in the East and in the centre of its range, it has gained a great 
deal in the North and West. The reason for this will be seen 
in its habits, especially in its adaptability to agricultural con- 

Had the map been made in 1890 instead of 1900, it would 
have given a still smaller range; for, as stated elsewhere, 1890 
seems to have been the low-ebb year for most of our game 
animals east of the Mississippi. Twenty years ago the Deer 

•Thomas Hariot, Virginia, 1585-6; Stevens Reprint, 1900, p. 39. 

74 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

were exterminated in New England, except in the remote north 
woods. Now they have re-possessed the whole country, even 
to the gates of New York City. Within the last year wild 
Deer have been seen about Greenwich, Conn., and even in 
Yonkers, N. Y. Northward the species has extended as far 
as latitude 50 degrees at least, in Algoma, and is likely to con- 
tinue advancing till it reaches Hudson's Bay. 
IN MANi- The map (No. 5) shows sufficiently the general range and 
™^"^ the range of the species in Manitoba. Its distribution here is 
that of a southern and eastern species that is forcing its way in, 
really following settlement toward the North-west. In 1800 
it was unknown about Pembina, if we may judge by its con- 
tinual omission from the yearly reports of Alex. Henry. In 
1820 it had not yet appeared. When, in 1874, Dr. E. Coues 
explored the Pembina region it was still without Whitetail. 
The earliest accounts I can find are for 1881, about which time, 
according to many old Manitobans, the ** Down-East Deer" 
first made its appearance. 

This accords with the date when first the upper Red River 
Valley (or Minnesota) was well settled. From that time the 
creature has spread steadily, as shown by the successive en- 
croachments indicated on the map. 

HOME How large is the home locality of a Whitetail .? Smaller, 

probably, than that of any other of the family in America. A 
Moose or a Mule Blacktail may pass the whole of a summer on 
a square mile. According to Audubon and Bachman^" a White- 
tail "is usually found in the same range or drive, as it is called, 
and often not fifty yards from the place where it was started 
before." These same naturalists remark with surprise on 
their finding a band of Deer that bedded at one place and fed 
nightly at another "nearly two miles off," and on a third case 
of Deer that daily covered four or five miles between bed and 
board. These, however, are very exceptional cases. 

All the guides that I have consulted agree with me in 
giving the individual Whitetail a very limited range. In the 

'" Aud. and Bach., Quad. N. A., Vol. II, p. 222. 


This map is founded on much personal experience and the records of several hundred ancient and mmlcrn '"veUers^ 
The heavy line shows the oriKinal range. The central area left hlank shows where the species has been ex erminated. In New tl 
and t:anada the Deerhas f,41,fwed the settler and gained much territory. Similarly the recent extension into Utah is a result of imgat.. 

land and — . 

The many forms south of the Rio Grande have not yet been w.rked out. 

The following are entered and complete the list north of Panama: 

Odocoileus virginianus (Bodd.) with its 7 races, OJocoileus lichlensleini (Allen), 

OdocoiUus couesi (Coues and Yarrow), Odocoileus Mlecu, (baussure), 

OdocoiUus hallui Allen, Odocoileus acapulcemis (Caton), 

OdocoiUus sinaloce Allen OdocoiUus thomast Merriam 


OdocoiUus nelsoni Merriam, 
OdocoiUus Iruei Merriam, 
OdocoiUus nemoralis (H. Smith), 
OdocoiUus coslaricensis Miller, 
OdocoiUus rothschildi (Thomas). 

76 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Rockies I know that two or three hundred acres will often 
provide a sufficient homeland for a whole family of them the 
year round. For the Whitetall, unlike the Wapiti and the Mule- 
deer, seems to be entirely non-migratory. 

ENVIRON- It Is essentially a creature of the denser woods and 
thickets where these alternate with open glades. Bare plains 
and rugged hillsides are an abomination unto It; but every 
Western river whose long flood-flat is belted and patched with 
far-reaching scrubby thicket Is sure to carry with it a long- 
drawn-out population of skulking Whitetalls, which, between 
scrub and bog, are able to hold their own and multiply, In spite 
of rifle and Wolf; while the hill-frequenting Blacktail is rapidly 
passing away. 

In the hard-wood ranges of the East, this preference Is less 
observable because all of the country Is one thicket, but the 
life of the animal is the same, and its chosen resort Is the bor- 
derland between sunny open and friendly cover. 

In one other way the Whitetall Is peculiar: It prefers 
the edges of civilization. There man wars on its foes, the 
Wolves; his axe makes sunny openings in the fir gloom; and, 
above all, his crops furnish delectable food in time of scarcity. 
In all parts of the North and East, therefore, the Whitetall has 
followed the settler into the woods and greatly extended Its 
range thereby. In this we see the reasons of Its extension Into 
Manitoba and northern Ontario. 

NUMBERS In speaking of Whitetall the early travellers use expres- 
sions that tell of astounding numbers; thus Cartier's "great 
store of Wilde beasts as Faunes Stags, etc.,"" Harlot's "great 
store."" Morton, writing of New England and its Deer (1632), 
says:'^ "There are in the countrey 3 kinds of Deare, of 
which there are great plenty, and those are very useful." 

Just what writers meant by "great plenty" I have en- 
deavoured to ascertain. 

" Hakluyt's Voyages, Vol. Ill, pp. 231-90. ^"^Op. cit., p. 39. 

"T. Morton, New English Canaan, London, 1632. 

Whitetailed Deer 77 

In the season of 1895 the official returns^^ showed that 
4,900 Deer were killed in the Adirondacks. It is notorious 
that official returns are far below the actual slaughter, for we 
must add, further, the number of those killed illegally during 
or out of season, as well as those killed and not found; also a 
proportion destroyed by natural enemies. We may believe 
that 4,900 Deer reported means 6,000 or 7,000 actually killed. 

I have heard hunters estimate that, under the most favour- 
able circumstances, the Deer do not .add more than a quarter 
each year by actual increase. If, therefore, more than a 
quarter are killed in a season, a falling-off results. But the 
Adirondack Deer are holding their own; that is, those killed 
are less than a quarter of their numbers. I should, therefore, 
estimate them at 30,000, or, roughly, 3 to a square mile. 

The official report for Maine gives 7,579 Deer killed in 
1899, which we are to believe makes a destruction of about 
15,000 Deer. But they have ample room and are steadily in- 
creasing, so that I put the numbers existing in Maine to-day 
(1906) at not less than 75,000, or about 2 to the square mile. 
In doing so I find I have been properly conservative, as Dr. 
W. T. Hornaday, in 1904, gives'^ the estimate of Deer in Maine 
at 100,000, or 3 to the square mile. 

All records agree, however, that in numbers the Deer in 
the Adirondacks and Maine now are as nothing to those of 
days gone by. Thus Morton says*® of those in New England, 
about 1632: "There is such abundance that 100 have been 
found, at the spring of the year, within the compass of a mile." 
But even this, we learn from the accounts of innumerable 
travellers, was far surpassed by the incredible hosts of the 
Middle States east of the Mississippi and of Texas. In the 
last-named State, about 1850,1 am assured by many old hunters 
that 500 in one band were met with commonly in the half- 
open country. Thousands could sometimes be seen in a day; 
they were there in tens of thousands. 

In the mountains of Colorado I have seen Mule-deer so 

>* First Annual Report, 1896, N. Y. S. Com. F. G. & F., p. 192. 

"American Natural Histor)-, 1904, p. 131. "' New English Canaan, 1632. 

78 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

plentiful that lo to the square mile would have been a very- 
low estimate indeed, and 20 would be a safe rate for the 
region. The guides claimed that in favourite localities there 
were as many as 200 Deer to the square mile. 

But the accounts of the hunters put the Whitetail, in point 
of numbers, far in advance of all other small Deer. Therefore, 
I feel satisfied that in primitive times 10 to the square mile is 
a safe estimate of Whitetailed population in its most favourable 
region — the immediate Mississippi Valley and the country to 
the east of it. This area was roughly 2,000,000 square miles. 
That is to say, it was the home of not less than 20,000,000 
Whitetailed Deer. 

Although the map of to-day shows a wide distribution, 
the distribution is on a very different basis from that of two 
hundred years ago. The Adirondacks, northern New Eng- 
land, northern Michigan, north-eastern Texas, and the dry 
parts of Florida (aggregating 100,000 square miles) may yet 
show an average of 3 Deer to the square mile. But we 
must consider the species as practically absent now from Ohio, 
Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, the 
northern half of Missouri, and the southern halves of Minne- 
sota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and Ontario, a total 
area of about 600,000 square miles of their best country. 
Moreover, the rest of the region shown as inhabited by White- 
tail in present times is so sparsely supplied that i Deer to 
5 square miles would be a liberal estimate. These figures 
would make the entire Whitetail population north of the Rio 
Grande somewhere about 500,000. 

The State of Maine, therefore, has now one-fifth of the 
Deer in the country. This is because she has learned that they 
are worth preserving. 

ANTLERS In the genus Odocoileus there are two well-marked types 

of antlers, as shown in Fig. 16. These represent average 
horns of full-grown bucks. In general style the Coast Deer 
antlers resemble those of the Mule-deer, but are more 

Fig. i8 — Deer horn embedded in 

Specimen in New York State Museum. 
Drawn from pliotoj^raph supplied 
bv the Director of the Museum. 

Inscribed : " This portion of an oak 
tree with a Deer's heatl and horns 
was taken from a forest in the State 
of Michi^jan. It is believed that 
the tree was between 40 and 50 
years old. Presented to the M use- 
um by the Hon. William Kelley, 
of Rhinebeck, Nov. 24, 1859." 

Fig. 20 — Whitetail Buck with remarkable palmations. 

Killed at North Lake Reservoir, town of Wilmurt, Herkimer County, .N. Y., fall of 1891. Drawn from 
photographs by Egbert Bagg, of Utica, N. Y. 

Fig. 19 — .\ntler <i( Virginia Deer embedded in tree 
Locality, New York St.ate. 
From photograph of specimen in New York State Muse- 
um, by courtesy of Director John .M. Clarke. 

Fig. 21 — Antler gnawed by Porcupine. 
Adirondacks, 190K. 

Fig. 22 — Abnormal antlers of Whitetail. 
Redrawn from Caton's figure. 


80 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

slender. Those grown by a Whitetail buck are normally 
as shown in Plate V, but antlers are usually abnormal. 
J. W. Titcomb states ^^ that a tame Deer which he knew grew, 
on its second autumn, a pair (its first) that were a foot long and 
had three points on each. A pair with many snags probably 
belonged to an old buck, and yet again an old buck may have 
mere spikes. Thus it will be seen that anyone pretending to 
tell the age by the horns alone is sure to err. 

Some of the most remarkable variations are here shown. 
The record for points still rests with a pair owned by Albert 
Friedrich, of San Antonio, Texas, which are of such super- 
abundant vigour as to have 78 points (Fig. 23). The 42-pointer 
from the Adirondacks (Fig. 24) and the 35-pointer from Minne- 
sota (Fig. 25) claim second and third places, respectively. 

Antlers are sexual appendages, and their connection with 
the genital system is close, though obscure. The latter cannot 
be deranged without creating a disturbance in antler produc- 
tion, and the effect of emasculation is extraordinary. Judge 
Caton, to whom we are so much indebted for light on the Deer 
family, shows^^ that a buck castrated when his antlers are nearly 
grown will drop them within thirty days after. Next year he 
will grow a new pair, according to rule, but they never ripen, 
harden, or peel. They continue full of blood and life until they 
are frozen and broken off by accident, leaving a stump. Each 
year thereafter the stump will grow larger and a new antler 
is projected, but never finished; and each succeeding year the 
antler will be smaller and more irregular 

ANT- From time to time does are found wearing antlers, usually 

LERED . . . 

DOES spikehorns, and in the velvet. As the connection between the 
reproductive organs and the horns is so close, Caton suggests ^^ 
that likely the females wearing these masculine ornaments 
have some peculiarity of the genitalia. 

Less interesting freaks are hornless adult bucks. I have 

" McKinley, The History of a Vermont Deer, F. & S., May i8, 1899, p. 205. 
"Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, pp. 186-7. 
'^Ibid., p. 233. 

Fig. 23 — Se\enty-eight-point Whitetail killed in Texas. 

Spread, 26% inches. 

From photograph by their owner, Albert Friedrich, of San Antonio, Texas 

Fig. 26 — Three-homed Whitetail. 

From Brainerd. Minn., Dec, 1897. Collection of C. J. Gunston, 
of Seattle, Wash. 

Fig. 24 — Fortj--t\vo-point Adirondack buck. 
Redrawn from photograph in New York State Fish and Game Report, 

Fig. 27 — Quebec Whitetail. 
From photograph by Norman H. H. Lett. 

Fig. 25 — Thirty-five-point Whitetail from Minnesota. 
From photograph by K. H. C, Rtcrtalion, June, 1897. 

Fig. 28 — Minnesota Whitetail 

From Brainerd, Minn., Dec, 1897. Collection of C. J. Gunston, 
of Seattle, Wash. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

never seen one of them, but have often heard of them, and 
find several cases recorded.^" 

Hariot first called attention to the unique fact that the 
"snags" of the horns "look backwards." Caton points out^^ 
that this enables "the animal, by bowing his head in battle, as 
is his habit, to present the tines to the adversary in front. 
When two meet in the shock of battle thus armed, these antlers 
form such a complete shield that [he adds] I have never known 
a point to reach an adversary." 

of fatally interlocked antlers- 

LocKED But the peculiarity has an offsetting disadvantage. More 

in this species than in any other in America do we find cases 

cases in which two bucks 
struggling for the master- 
ery have in some way 
either sprung their ant- 
lers apart, or forced them 
together so that they are 
inextricably intertangled, 
and death to both com- 
batants is the inevitable 
finish. Often it comes by 
starvation, so that antler- 
bound bucks are lucky if 
found by their natural 
enemies and put to a 
speedier and more merci- 
ful death. 

Stanley Waterloo 
writes :^^ "In Novem- 
ber, 1895, Mr. F. F. 
Strong, a well-known Chicago business man and an ardent 
sportsman, was, with a small party of friends, hunting near 

^° Forest and Stream, July 4, 1896, p. 5, and Forest and Stream, June 6, 1896, p. 454. 
*' Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 224. 
^-Recreation Magazine, September, 1897, p. 236. 

Fig. 2g — Two Whitetail bucks with locked horns. 

Redrawn from Stanley Waterloo's photograph in Recreation for 
August, 1S99. 

Whitetailed Deer 83 

Indian River, in Schoolcraft County, Michigan. One day, when 
the party was out, ravens were noticed hovering noisily over a 
certain spot and, attracted by curiosity, the hunters sought the 
cause. Emerging into a comparatively open space in the wood, 
they made a discovery. For the space of nearly an acre the 
ground was torn and furrowed by the hoofs of two bucks, and 
near the centre of the open space lay the bucks themselves, with 
their horns inextricably locked (Fig. 29). One of the Deer 
was dead, and the hungry ravens had eaten both his eyes, 
though deterred from further feasting by the occasional spas- 
modic movements of the surviving combatant, whose eyes were 
already glazing." 

I remember reading an account of a hunter finding two 
bucks thus locked— one dead, the other near death. He was 
a humane man, so went home for a saw and cut the living one 
free. The moment it felt at liberty it turned its feeble remain- 
ing strength on its deliverer, and he had much ado to save his 
own life before he could regain his rifle and lay the ingrate low.^^ 

Audubon and Bachman telP* of three bucks whose antlers 
were thus interlocked. In the New York State Museum is 
shown a portion of a tree with the antler of a Deer driven 
through it, or, more.likely, an antler with the tree grown around 
it (Fig. 18). 

The feet are much less subject to aberration than the freak 


horns, but Dr. E. Coues has described'' a solid-hoofed Virginian 
Deer that was sent him by George A. Boardman, of Calais, Me. 
In this freak the two central or main hoofs were consolidated 
as one. A somewhat similar peculiarity has often been seen 
in pigs, but never before recorded for the Whitetailed Deer. 

There is a tendency to albinism among the Deer in some albj- 
parts of the country. This appears usually on islands and 
isolated districts, where it seems to be a consequence of in- 

^' I am unable now to find the record and give due credit for the story. 
^"Quad. N A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 224. 

"-^Bull. U. S. Geol. Survey, Notes Herpet. Dak. Mont., Feb. 5, 1878, Art. XII, 
pp. 293-4. 


84 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

breeding. Albinism is a freak or disease by which the colour- 
ing matter is left out of the hair on those parts of the body that 
are affected, and the hair there comes white. Sometimes the 
entire animal is involved, in which case usually the hoofs are 
white and the eyes pink. It is not by any means certain that 
the albino of this year will be an albino next year also. The 
affection is sometimes associated with internal worms. 

The protective value of their blended tints, and the way in 
which many animals turn them to account raises the question: 
Are they conscious of their adaption to surroundings .? 

D. Wheeler writes me (January 7, 1901): "Deer seem to 
realize their colour; they come to the water to drink and com- 
monly pause to reconnoitre among dead brush that matches 
their coat. I am sure that the Northern Hare does so; for in 
the spring of the year, when they are still in white and when the 
snow is in patches, they invariably squat or rest on the snow." 

R. Nichols, of Portland, Ore., assures me that Ptarmigan 
in white always squat on the snow, if the ground be bare in 

This does not agree with my own observations on Snow- 
shoe Rabbits and White-jacks. Twice I saw a White-jack 
crouch on a white rock, but I many times saw them when in 
winter coat, crouch in brownish, grassy places where they were 
ridiculously conspicuous. On the bare ground they are of 
course more visible, and here they were very shy; though this 
might be explained by the absence of cover. 

I am not yet satisfied that any animals actually realize the 
protective value of their colour. 

EYE- The hearing and scent of Deer are marvellously acute, but 

their eyesight is not of the best. Audubon and Bachman 
considered it actually imperfect; stating as proof that"^ **we 
have often, when standing still, perceived the Deer passing 
within a few yards without observing us, but we have often 
noticed the affrighted start when we moved our position or 
when they scented us by the wind. On one occasion we had 

"^^Loc. cit., p. 227. 

Whitetailed Deer 85 

tied our horse for some time at a stand; on his becoming rest- 
less we removed him to a distance; a Deer pursued by dogs 
ran near the spot where the horse had originally stood, caught 
the scent, started suddenly back and passed within a few feet 
of the spot where we were standing without having observed 

This animal seems, indeed, to regard all motionless objects 
down wind as mere features of the landscape. Hunters take 
advantage of this weakness, when stalking it in the open. 
They run toward it without concealment as long as it is graz- 
ing; but the moment it shows, by shaking its tail, that it is 
about to raise its head, they "freeze," crouching low and still. 
The Deer takes its customary look around and lowers its head 
to feed again; whereupon they repeat the open approach, and 
thus continue until within easy shot. 

Col. Theodore Roosevelt observes :" " I cannot say whether 
the habit is a universal one, but on two occasions at least I was 
able thus to creep up to the feeding Deer, because before lifting 
its head it invariably shook its tail, thereby warning me to stay 
without moving until it had lifted its head, scrutinized the 
landscape, and again lowered its head to graze. The eyesight 
of the Whitetail, as compared with that of the Pronghorn Ante- 
lope, is poor. It notes whatever is in motion, but it seems 
unable to distinguish clearly anything that is not in motion. 
On the occasions in question no Antelope that I have ever seen 
would have failed to notice me at once and to take alarm. But 
the Whitetail, although it scrutinized me narrowly, while I lay 
motionless with my head toward it, seemed in each case to 
think that I must be harmless, and after a while it would go on 
feeding. In one instance the animal fed over a ridge and 
walked off before I could get a shot; in the other instance I 
killed it." 

I have heard of this trick often, and have several times 
proved it a failure with Antelope. I never tried it on Whitetail 
Deer, but did it with complete success on a pair of Red-deer 
in Europe some years ago. 

"Deer Fam., 1903, pp. 96-7. 

86 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

VOICE The Deer is generally considered a very silent animal, yet 

the list of its noises increases with fuller observation. Ac- 
cording to Audubon and Bachman:-^ "The fawn has a gentle 
bleat that might be heard by the keen ears of its mother at 
the distance, probably, of loo yards. We have never heard 
the voice of the female beyond a mere murmur when calling 
her young, except when shot, when she often bleats like a calf 
in pain. The buck when suddenly started sometimes utters 
a snort, and we have at night heard him emitting a shrill 
whistling sound, not unlike that of a chamois of the Alps, that 
could be heard the distance of half a mile." 

''In riding through the woods at night in the vicinity of 
Deer we have often heard them stamp their feet, the bucks on 
such occasions giving a loud snort, then bounding off for a few 
yards, and again repeating the stamping and snorting, which 
appear to be nocturnal habits."-^ 

They have also a louder, coarser snort or challenge, as 
noted later. 

Franklin T. Payne describes^" some park bucks that he 
shipped as "bawling with rage when captured." 

"In all my experience [says A. Y. Walton^^], extending 
over about forty years, I have never but once heard a Deer 
make use of the voice when seeking a lost mate. This oc- 
curred when, upon one occasion, having shot at and scattered 
a band of stags, one of the number, not having seen or scented 
us, turned back, evidently seeking his leader, and passed close 
by, making a low, muttering noise like that sometimes uttered 
by the domestic ram." 

Commenting on the above facts, Ernest McVeigh, of 
Ottawa, Ont., writes me on October 19, 1906: 

" My experience of Deer has been pretty much confined to 
the Province of Ontario, ranging from the Georgian Bay to 
Montreal, and I have noted all of the sounds mentioned by 
you. But two or three years ago I had a new experience. I 

^«Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, pp. 226-7. 

^"Ibid., p. 229. 

^'^ Recreation Magazine, May, 1898, p. 377. 

^*A. Y. Walton, Forest and Stream, June 15, 1895, p. 485. 

Whitetailed Deer 87 

went up the Gatlneau, in the Province of Quebec, for a few 
days' hunting, and in discussing the hunt with our host, whose 
experience of Deer had been confined to his immediate sur- 
roundings, I was struck by his remark that he 'heard the Deer 
bleat as they came up through the valley ahead of the dog.' I 
asked him to explain, as this was new to me, and he informed 
me that nearly all Deer in his country did this when chased 
by dogs, as well as when disturbed by hunters. During my 
stay I saw Deer, both chased by dogs and started by hunters, 
that did not bleat; but I also had the good luck to hear and 
see some that did. 

***** One of my friends shot at a Deer down in the 
valley, and started a bunch of 5 that went up over a smooth 
top hill about 800 yards from me. I should not have noticed 
them had it not been for the loud and continuous bleat they 
emitted as they went. The word * bleat' does not quite de- 
scribe the sound, as it was as much a bellow as a bleat, being 
a deep, throaty, continuous noise that seemed to fill all sur- 
rounding space for, I should judge, at least 1,000 yards; 
and to make the thing more peculiar, they went in single file 
and trotted with flags down, as Moose might have done. I 
had a good view of them, and they were ordinary Whitetailed 
Deer. But to remove any doubts of that, my friend managed 
to get a second shot and dropped one of them (a 160-pound 
buck), which did not differ in any way from others of his kind. 

** Whether this phenomenon is peculiar to the district 
referred to or not, I cannot say, but my friend stated that both 
bucks and does had this habit." 

The greatest enemy of the Whitetail is the buckshot gun, enemies 
with its unholy confederates, the jacklight and canoe. I hope 
and believe that a very few years will see them totally done 
away with in deer sport — classed with and scorned like the 
dynamite of the shameless *' fish-hog." 

Next comes the repeating rifle of the poacher and pot- 

The third enemy is deep snow. It is deep snow that hides 

88 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

their food, that robs them of their speed, that brings them 
easily within the power of the Cougar on its snow-shoes, and 
of the human Cougar who is similarly equipped for skimming 
over the drifts. 

Another deadly peril from the snow in a hard winter is 
set forth by Raymond S. Spears.^^ After pointing out that 
the heedless burning of forests had destroyed the winter cover 
of the Adirondack Deer, he says: 

"Perhaps the worst sight of all was that of Deer with 
* saddles' of snow on their backs. The snow froze to the hair 
of the animals, which did not have life enough to melt it. 
The saddles grew larger and larger on scores of Deer, until the 
victims finally succumbed." 

Wolves, too, rank high in the list of the Whitetail's foes, 
and have long played seesaw havoc with the Deer in the 
North. On the Upper Ottawa the Deer came in with the 
settlers. The Wolves followed, because in the Deer they 
found their winter support. In summer the Deer were safe 
among the countless lakes, and the Wolves subsisted on what 
small stuff they could pick up in the woods. But winter 
robbed the Deer of the water safe-havens, and then the 
Wolves could run them down; thus they wintered well. 

But wintering well meant increasing, and the Wolves 
became so numerous that they destroyed their own support, 
when starvation, followed by extinction, was their lot. Again 
the Deer recovered locally or drifted in from other regions, and 
again the Wolves increased to repeat their own destruction. 
This has been the history of the Deer population along most 
of our frontier wherever winter is accompanied by deep snow. 
If we could exterminate the Gray-wolf we should half solve 
the question of deer-supply; but there is no evidence that we 
shall ever succeed in doing this. 

However, I find one experienced old hunter (E. T. Mer- 
rill, of Reed City, Mich.,) who has little faith in the stories 
of Wolves running down Deer. He says:^^ 

"I have not yet seen the race between Wolves and a Deer 

'*In Sat. Eve. Post, January 26, 1907. ^^ Sports Afield, March, 1900, p. 229. 

Whitetailed Deer 89 

that lasted over ten minutes. Either the Deer gets to water 
or some clearing or road where the Wolves will not follow, or 
else he is killed at once. Very often they drag a Deer down 
within a few jumps of where he starts. In Michigan and Wis- 
consin, during winter, Deer generally feed along the edge of 
a swamp under thick hemlocks where there is plenty of ground 
hemlock, and the Wolves generally come in on them from two 
ways and drive them toward the swamp, and they will nearly 
always kill them within forty rods of where they start." 

This is readily understood in country where Deer and other 
game animals abound. The Wolf knows very well that the 
Deer is far fleeter than itself and that, if it fails in that first 
dash, it is easier to go elsewhere and try to surprise another 
Deer. But when desperately hungry, in regions where Deer 
are not so plentiful, a Wolf will stick to any Deer it starts and 
will follow it to a finish, however far. I have heard accounts 
of many old Ontario hunters that entirely support this belief. 
These facts, it will be seen, are not opposed to those advanced 
by E. T. Merrill. 

The Hon. George A. Shiras tells me that in the spring of 
1906 he examined carefully a cedar-swamp in Alger County, 
northern Michigan, and found within a radius of three miles 
325 carcasses of Deer killed by Wolves during the past winter. 

It seems likely that Foxes will kill the very young fawns 
if they find them unprotected. There is, at least, good evidence 
that the Deer reckon the Fox as one of their foes. 

W. G. Rockefeller tells me that about November i, 1904, as 
he was still-hunting in the Adirondacks, he came on a Deer 
that was leaping about in an extraordinary way. On getting 
near he found it a doe in pursuit of a Fox. The Fox was run- 
ning and dodging under logs or any other cover he could find; 
but the doe was intent on killing him, and would have succeeded, 
doubtless, had not my informant interfered by shooting the 
Fox. The doe was closely followed by her fawn of the year. 

This same sportsman knew of a buck that discovered a 
Fox held in a trap. The Deer, promptly taking advantage 


90 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of his enemy's distress, tried to kill the Fox, but in some un- 
known way released it, and Reynard made good his escape. 

MosQui- Mosquitoes, ticks, and deer-flies are also among the 

foes of this Deer. Mosquitoes bother them just as they do us. 
At times the Deer avoid these plagues by sinking themselves 
FLIES in the mud and water. Blue-ticks of the genus Ixodes are 
very troublesome; and G. M. Martin tells me that in the 
Adirondacks during June and July he has often seen these 
hanging on the Deer's legs, sucking their blood. The ticks 
do not cause the Deer much annoyance, but must be a great 
drain when present in large numbers. The deer-flies {Oest- 
rus), however, are the most annoying of all these small en- 

Catesby says'^ (in 1731): "Near the sea the Deer are 
always lean and ill-tasted, and subject to botts breeding in the 
head and throat." The bott mentioned is the larva of the gad- 
fly or deer-fly. Hunters assure me that this same complaint is 
found among Deer in the north. 

R. Clark Fisk writes me that in Montana, on September 
9, 1898, he "shot a young Whitetail buck whose horns were 
in full velvet. He was fat, but in his liver I found two large 
worms curled up. They were not unlike skin botts." 

In the country about MacDonald Lake, in the Adiron- 
dacks, G. M. Martin tells me. Deer are often seen with warts 
on the legs and belly. Some of those observed were an inch 
across and one inch high. In the Rockies I found the Black- 
tails much infested by hydatid cysts. I expect that the same 
will prove true of the Whitetail. 

The following case is given by E. T. Merrill, of Reed 

City, Michigan:'' 

DISEASES "One fall a number of years ago a party hunting with me 

shot a yearling buck, and while we were trailing it up in a thick 

cedar swamp, we found, strung along the brush, what proved 

="'Nat. Hist. Car., Flor., Bah. Ids., II, 1731-43. 
^'Sports Afield, March, 1900, p. 228. 

Whitetailed Deer 91 

to be a tape-worm fully 150 feet in length. This Deer was very 

Writing of the Whitetail in Texas, A. Y. Walton, says:" 

"They continued to be very abundant in all the country 
towards the coast until 1856, when an epizootic distemper, 
called "black tongue," broke out among them and killed 
them by the thousands. I have known this disease to occur in 
Louisiana and Texas, and have examined subjects affected by 
it. The most marked symptoms seem to be a general emacia- 
tion and wasting away of the system, a mucous discharge from 
the nostrils, and a sloughing of the hoofs, all evidently accom- 
panied with a fever and thirst, for the dead were found mostly 
at or near the water." 

Many years ago tuberculosis broke out among the Deer 
of a certain section of New England and, according to the late 
Jenness Richardson, destroyed many. It was a common thing 
in the evening, he said, to hear the Deer coughing in the 
woods. E. T. Murch, of Bangor, Maine, tells me that in 1901 
there was much lung trouble among the Maine Deer. The 
victims were usually the older ones. 

At Woburn Abbey I learned from the Duchess of Bedford 
that many Virginian Deer have died there of a parasitic disease 
of the lungs and stomach. 

There have been, doubtless, many destructive epidemics 
among the Deer of America, but the right conjunction of 
disease and bacteriologist has not yet occurred, so that we have 
no authentic details. In this connection Judge Caton's ob- 
servations on the Deer in his parks are the best available. 
He says'** "that they are liable to distempers in the wild state, 
either epidemic or contagious, which sometimes carry off great 
numbers, we may not doubt, as we sometimes receive pretty 
well authenticated accounts of such calamities. Such accounts 

'^On writing to the hunter and his guide, Anthony Wenzel, I learned, further, that 
the end of the tape-worm came out of the bullet hole when the shot was fired, and 
continued unbroken to the carcass, in which were still two or three quarts of the 

"Forest and Stream, June 15, 1895, p. 485. 

^Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, pp. 341-3. 


92 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

as I have noticed have, however, been confined to the Virginian 

H: ***** * 

"I have lost many Virginian Deer with a swelling under 
the lower jaw. It commences two or three inches back of the 
chin, and finally swells out as to involve the whole head below 
the eyes; sometimes it gathers in a sac of half an ounce of pus- 
like matter, one of which I opened, but the Deer died. I never 
knew one to break itself. When the tame Deer are attacked 
with this distemper, and it is observed in time, I have never 
failed to cure it. If, when it first appears, it is examined, a 
small, hard kernel is found just under the skin. If this is then 
cut out the Deer gets well at once. Later, the lump seems to 
be dissipated, but if the swelling has not extended above the 
lower jaw, though it may be three inches long, and the protuber- 
ance an inch thick, and really has an alarming appearance, a 
deep central incision an inch or more long has always proved 
effectual. But as only the tame Deer, which can be caught, can 
be treated, all the wild Virginian Deer which have been attacked, 
so far as I know, have died. In the early part of my experi- 
ments this disease was much more prevalent than in later years, 
and so I conclude that those more remotely descended from the 
wild stock are the least liable to it. It only attacks the adults, 
or those more than two years old. I have no account that this 
disease has ever been observed among the wild Deer of the 
forest; certainly I have never seen one aflflicted with it." 

Many a man on first seeing Deer dash through the dan- 
gerous, mazy wreck of a storm-track has wondered how they 
could escape with their lives. As a matter of fact, they suff^er 
many accidents in their haste. I suppose that not one adult 
Deer in ten has escaped being snagged many times, as shown 
by scars on legs and belly. One very strange case of the sort 
is recorded from Montana by R. C. Fisk.^^ He shot a doe 
Whitetail that had a "fir branch over a foot long and over 
half an inch thick" driven into her body. It had entered 
between the fourth and fifth ribs on the right side, missed the 

^* Outdoor Life, December, 1898. 

Whitetailed Deer 


T "D 

Fig. 30 — The snag. 
Redrawn from R. C. Fisk's sketch. 

right lung, pierced the top of the diaphragm and the point 
of the Hver, and rested against the under side of the backbone. 
"That the animal met with this accident while it was yet 
young [says Fisk] I am thoroughly convinced, for the end at 
the ribs had been entirely 

drawn into the opening of 
the heart and lungs, and 
had thoroughly healed on 
the outside. The skin, 
which I now have, shows 
only the faintest trace of a 
scar. There was not a par- 
ticle of pus or inflammatory 
matter of any kind. In 
fact, the branch, covered as 
it was with the white skin, exactly resembled one of the long 
bones of the leg. The animal was healthy and fat and the 
meat was fine" (Fig. 30). 

The ordinary gait of the Deer is a low, smooth bounding, 
with an occasional high jump. This low bounding is, at its 
best, I should estimate (according to the scale of speed as set 
forth in the Antelope), about twenty-seven or twenty-eight miles 
an hour. The ease with which the animal covers great spaces 
is marvellous. I have known a buck to clear a four-foot log and 
fifteen feet of ground in one leap. The occasional high jump, 
like the spy-hop of Jack-rabbit and springbok, is intended, 
no doubt, for purpose of observation. 

In the water, Whitetailed Deer are very much at home, swim- 
They can go so fast that a canoe-man must race to overtake ' 
them; this means that they can swim for a time at four miles 
an hour. They are, indeed, so confident of their swimming 
powers that they invariably make for the water when hunted 
to extremity. There are many cases on record of Deer so 
pushed boldly striking out into the open sea, trusting to luck 
for finding another shore. 

There is a record'" of a Whitetail Deer captured at sea 

*° Forest and Stream, December 6, 1883, p. 362. 

94 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

near Portland, Me., five miles from shore, and another"' of 
one taken a mile and a half from Sachuest Point, R. I., as it 
was swimming at full speed away from land. In regions where 
there is plenty of open water the Deer have little to fear from 
Wolves and nothing at all from unaided dogs. In summer a 
Deer swims low in the water, showing little more than its head; 
and when shot it usually sinks. In the late fall it swims much 
higher, showing the back. This is due partly to the recently 
acquired fat, which has added more to its bulk than to its weight, 
but chiefly to the growth of the coat, each hair of which is a 
little barrel of air adding its flotation to the Deer. As Merriam 
says:"^ "When the blue coat, which grows very rapidly, is an 
inch in length, it will, as a rule, float the Deer that carries it, and 
this length is generally obtained about the first of October." 

TRACKS The tracks that are shown in Fig. 35 were drawn on the 

SIGN sandy shore of Big Dam Lake, forty miles from Kippewa, 
Que., September 15, 1906, and show those of the buck, the 
doe, and the fawn. The tracks of a pig (Fig. 7,7^) and of a 
sheep (Fig. 31) are shown in contradiction of the statement that 
such may easily be mistaken for Deer tracks (Figs. 32, 34), 
even by the expert. 

wAL-^ In the mating season the European Red-deer makes what 

is known as a ^'soiling pit.'' In some open glade he digs a 
hole in which the rain collects. This he paws and stirs till it 
becomes what our backwoodsmen would call *'a regular dope." 
With the mud he besmears himself plentifully, rolling and 
grovelling in it like a hog that has only partly learned how to 
wallow. The habit is ascribed to both Moose and Wapiti, and 
is also seen to some extent in the Whitetailed Deer. What 
pleasure it gives the animal or what purpose it serves no one 
knows; but every hunter who finds one of these odoriferous 
cesspools of the forest knows at once that the bucks have begun 
to bestir themselves for the good of the next generation. 

^'Forest and Stream, April 4, 1896, p. 272. 
*^Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 130. 


Fig. 31 — Sheep tracks, front and hind, different sized sheep. 

Fig. 33 — Right feet of pig. 
August 6, 1903. 

No cluuts. Mud.onehalf inch deep. 

Fig. 32 — A. Hind-foot of Whitetail buck at full speed. B. Track of 
riglit fore-foot — 'sj-a incljts in length. 

^X. ^^ 

Fig. 33 — Tracks of Whitetail. Quebec, September 15, 1905. 

A. Buck running .ifter doe. From A to B he cleared, at one bound, 15 feet, and passed over the lop X where it is 4'^ feet from 
the ground. B. Doe. coming dripping out of the water, steps here about 18 inches : farther on she trotted and the steps 
are 2% feet long. Her tracks re^^ister well ; is. the hind-foot falls in the mark of the front-foot. C. A half-:,'rown 
fawn with the doe. For some reason its tracks do not register at all. Registering is better walking and especially lends 
silence to the tread. 


96 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

SALT- All our ruminants have a great fondness for salt and 


eagerly seek out anything of a salty nature that they can find 
in their native range. They doubtless need it for a tonic. 
Many different soluble mineral salts seem to satisfy this crav- 
ing. Merriam calls attention ^^ to one in the Adirondacks 
where "the Deer had licked the clay, possibly obtaining a 
trifle of potash, alumina, and iron derived from sulphates 
from decomposing pyrites." 

LIFE OF If we begin in the early spring to follow the life of the 

DOE Whitetail on its northern range, we shall find that up to the 
month of January the does and bucks are still in company. 
According to Audubon and Bachman,^^ it is only during the 
mating season that the sexes herd together. This is a general 
statement which has many exceptions, especially in the North. 
I think that both males and females are found in the deer- 
yards throughout the winter, and that young bucks may follow 
their mothers throughout their first year. 

But the melting snow sets all free again. The older bucks 
go off in twos or threes, leaving the does to go their own way 
also, which they do in small groups, accompanied by their 
young of the year before. 

All winter the herd has fed on twigs, moss, evergreens, and 
dry grass. Now, the new vegetation affords many changes of nu- 
tritious diet, consequently they begin to grow fatter, and the un- 
born young develop fast. The winter coat begins to drop and 
a general sleekness comes on both young and old. May sees the 
doe a renovated being, and usually also sees her alone, for now 
her 62 months' gestation is nearing its end. Some day, about 
the middle of the month, she slinks quietly into a thick cover, 
perhaps a fallen tree-top, and there gives birth to her young. 
The number varies according to the age and vigour of the mother. 

FAWNS The first time, according to Audubon and Bachman,"^ 

"she has i fawn. If in good order, she has 2 the following 
year. A very large and healthy doe often produces 3, and we 

"^Ibid., p. 135. "Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 226. *^Ibid., p. 226. 

Whitetailed Deer 97 

were present at Goose Creek when an immense one, killed 
by J. W. Audubon, was ascertained, on being opened, to con- 
tain 4 large and well-formed fawns. The average number of 
fawns in Carolina is 2, and the cases where 3 are produced are 
nearly as numerous as those in which the young does have 
only I at the birth." 

Nevertheless, I have never heard of anyone seeing a doe 
actually accompanied by 4 fawns, or even 3. This recalls a 
fact that I have often noted: that in mammals the average 
number of young found in embryo is greater than the average 
found with the mother, even just after birth. 

Audubon and Bachman say^^ that the doe does not produce 
till she is two years old ; that is, the first fawn is born about 
the mother's second birthday. But A. N. Cheney has de- 
scribed^^ a remarkable case of a captive "female fawn born in 
1895, that gave birth to a fawn of her own in 1896." I saw 
a case of this kind at Meeker, Colorado, in 1901. Dr. J. W. 
Collins showed me there a fifteen-months-old filly which, 
though not yet weaned, had produced the night before an 
abortive foetus, which I examined carefully. It was apparently 
at three months' development. Dr. Collins knew nothing of 
its generation. Possibly this, as well as that above mentioned, 
was a case of foetus in fceto. 

Another strange instance is thus given by E. A. Weather- 
bee,^* of Lincoln, Me.: 

"Two years ago, in June, I went with a friend trout fishing 
on the Madunkeunk,a stream eight miles from here. At a place 
where the ground had been unusually soft by recent rains I saw 
some large Moose tracks, which were punched in to the depth 
of a foot. I told the boys to notice the tracks and passed on. 
One of the party called me to come back and see the Deer he 
had found. I had stepped directly over a track which contained 
a small fawn. It was dead and lay curled up in the track like a 
kitten. We thought it could not be over one day old, perhaps 
not that, and had either been dropped by the doe directly into 

*^Ibid. *^ Forest and Stream, September 12, 1896, p. 203. 

** Recreation Magazine, March, 1900, p. 205. 

98 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the Moose track or had fallen in and could not get out. It was 
about the size of a house cat, but with longer legs." 

No North American member of the Deer family makes 
any pretence at a nest. The home of the young is the neigh- 
bourhood where they are born. They may consider the old 
tree-top their head-quarters, but they will lie in a different part 
of it every day. Moreover, in Texas, A. Y. Walton says:" 
" I have never known them to lie, at this stage of their life, as 
the young sheep and goats do, almost touching one another, 
but they lie with more or less distance separating them, never 
very far apart and never very close together." 

The weight of the fawn at birth is about 4§ pounds.^ 
J. W. Titcomb gives the weight of one at 3I pounds. ^^ 

The mother visits them perhaps half a dozen times a day 
to suckle them. I think that at night she lies next them to 
warm them, although the available testimony shows that, in 
the daytime, she frequents a solitary bed several yards away. 
I suppose that she never goes out of hearing of their squeak, 
except when in search of water. If found and handled at this 
time the fawns instinctively *'play dead," are limp, silent, and 

Their natural enemies now are numerous. Bears, Wolves, 
Panthers, Lynxes, Fishers, dogs. Foxes, and eagles are the 
most dangerous of the large kind. But the spotted coats of 
the fawns and their death-like stillness are wonderful safe- 
guards. Many hunters maintain, moreover, that fawns give 
out no scent. Doubtless this means that their body-scent is 
reduced to a minimum; and, since they do not travel, they 
leave no foot-scent at all. 

There is one more large creature that some would put 
on the fawn's Hst of enemies (but, so far as I can learn, without 
good reason), and that is — their own father. I can believe 
that a doe coming upon a fawn clearly not her own, might 

^^ Forest and Stream, June 15, 1895, p. 485. 
^"Homaday, Am. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 130. 
*' Forest and Stream, March 18, 1899, p. 205. 

Whitetailed Deer 99 

resent with a blow any attempted liberties, but I know of no 
reason for supposing that, in a wild state, the buck would go 
out of his way to injure his offspring. 

The mother is ready at all times to render what defence 
she can to her fawn; and, unless hopelessly overmatched, she 
is wonderfully efficient. Her readiness to run to her young at 
their call of distress is (or was) often turned to unfair account 
by the hunters in the South-west. They manufactured a reed 
that imitated the fawn's bleat, and thus brought within gun- 
shot not only the anxious mother, but sometimes also the 
prowling Cougar and Lynx. 

Natural questions that arise are: Does the mother never 
forget where she hid her young .? Can she come back to the 
very spot in the unvaried woods, even when driven a mile or 
two away by some dreaded enemy ? 

In the vast majority of cases the mother's memory of 
the place enables her to come back to the very spot. Some- 
times it happens that an enemy forces the little one to run 
and hide elsewhere, while the mother is away. In such 
cases, she sets to work to ransack the neighbourhood, to 
search the ground and the wind for a helpful scent, listening 
intently for every sound. A rustle or a squeak is enough 
to make her dash excitedly to the quarter whence it came. 
It is probable, though I have no conclusive proof, that now 
she calls for the fawn, as does a cow or a sheep whose young 
are missing. 

In most cases her hearty endeavours succeed. But there 
is evidence that sometimes the end is a tragedy — that the 
fawns, like the children of the story, are lost in the woods. 

The Moose and the Wapiti may hide their young two or 
three days, the Antelope for a week; but the Whitetail fawns 
are usually left in their first covert for a month or more. 

At this age their rich brown coats are set off with pure 
white spots, like a brown log sprinkled with snow-drops, or 
flecked with spots of sunlight. This makes a colour scheme 

100 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that Is protective as they crouch in the leaves, and is exquisitely 
beautiful when, later on, they bound or glide by their mother's 
side to the appreciative mirror furnished by their daily drink- 
ing pool. 

At four or five weeks of age — that is, about the beginning 
of July — they begin to follow their mother. I examined one, 
however, that was found hidden in the grass near Dauphin 
Lake, Manitoba, as late as the 22d of August. 

Analogy would prove that the fawns begin to eat solid 
food at this time. They develop rapidly and become very 
swift-footed. Some hunters maintain that they are even 
swifter than their parents, but this is, I think, not the case. 
As already noted, it is a rule that, of two animals going at the 
same rate, the smaller always appears to he the faster. 

Their daily lives now are as unvaried as they can make 
them. They rest in some cool shelter during the heat of the 
morning, and about noon they go to their drinking place. 

This daily drink is essential, and yet the map (p. 75) 
shows the Whitetail of the far South-west to be a dweller in 
arid country where no water is. Here, like the Antelope, 
they find their water-supply in the leaves and shoots of the 
provident cactus, which is among plants what the camel is 
among beasts — a living tank — able to store up, in times of rain, 
enough water for the thirsty days to come. 

The mother Whitetail, after a copious draught, sufficient 
to last all day long, retires again with her family to chew the 
cud in their old retreat, where they escape the deer-flies and 
heat, but suffer the mosquitoes and ticks. As the sun lowers 
they get up and go forth stealthily to feed, perhaps by the margin 
of the forest, where grow their favourite grasses, or the nearest 
pond, where the lily-pads abound, and root, stem, or leaf pro- 
vide a feast that will tempt the Deer from afar. They munch 
away till the night grows black, then sneak back to some other 
part of the home covert, rarely the same bed, where they doze 
or chew the cud till dawn comes on. Then, again, they take 
advantage of the half-light that they love, and go foraging till 
warned by the sunrise that they must once more hide away. 

Whitetailed Deer lOl 

This is a skeleton of their daily programme in the wilder- 
ness, but they modify it considerably for life around the settle- 
ments. The noonday visit to the watering-place is dispensed 
with. Instead, they go by night. Foraging in daylight hours 
is given up. Secret and silent as the Coon, the Whitetail family 
lurks in their coppice all day, and at night go, not to the lily- 
padded shore but to the fields of grain, clover, turnips, or 
garden truck. Lightly the alert and shadow-like mother ap- 
proaches the fence, behind in her track are the fawns — not 
even shadow-like, for they are actually invisible in their broken 
coats. A moment she listens; then, with a bound, she clears the 
fence and, followed by her young, lands in the banquet spread. 

These visits are never during the day, nor are they during 
hours of black darkness, for even Deer require some light to see 
by. A favourite time for such a frontier foray is in the moonlight ; 
and the rising of the moon is, in all much-hunted regions, a 
signal for the Deer to go forth. Many supposed irregularities in 
their habits will be explained by reference to the lunar calendar. 

As September wanes there are two important changes in 
the fawns: first, they are weaned; second, they shed their 
spotted — their milk-spotted — coat; they are now fawns of the 
year. As Caton says,^^ they are weaned at about four months of 
age, but continue to follow the dam, *'the males for one year, 
the females for two years." An exception to this rule is during 
that interesting first month of the little ones' lives. Then, the 
older sisters or brothers may be lurking in the neighbourhood; 
they may join the mother at the drinking place; but during 
the nursing hours she does not want them near, and, if need be, 
takes rude means to prevent their coming. 

In September, too, there is a disposition to reunite. 

The bucks shed their antlers in January — earlier, if very life of 
vigorous; weeks later, if puny. In Vermont, J. W. Titcomb's buck 
tame buck shed one antler on the 26th of February and the 
second on the ist of March. '^^ When the melting snow leaves 

"^ Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 308. 
" Forest and Stream, March 18, 1899, p. 205. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the sexes free to seek or shun each other at their will, these 
turn their unantlered heads from the social herd, and wander off, 
usually two together, as with most of our horned ruminants. 

Bare ground, with its sprouting grass and shoots, now 
supplies bountiful food. The surplus energies of the does go 
to the unborn young; that of the bucks to their budding 
antlers. These make 
their appearance from 
two to six weeks after 
the old ones are dropped. 

Their growth goes 
on with the marvellous 
rapidity already noted. 
During the early stages 
they are so soft as to be 
almost plastic, and every 
accident to them is re- 
corded in their shape. 
By August they are com- 
plete, though still in vel- 
vet. By the middle of 
September the buck has 
scraped them clean and 
polished them. Until 
the last two or three 
weeks the antlers have 
blood-vessels throbbing with blood; they have nerves and are 
sensitive, and they are integral parts of the animal's body. 

The antlers are, of course, doomed to die and drop off 
within three months of reaching maturity. Death begins at 
the points and follows downward and inward till the whole 
structure is killed; and it is during the progress of this slow 
dying that the antlers fill the office for which they were created. 
This is well known, but Judge Caton, our great Deer authority, 
gives some surprising additional information.^ 

**The evidence," says he, "derived from a very great 

" Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 172. 

Fig. 36 — The Bonnechere head 
From a Topley Studio photog^raph supplied by Norman H. H. Lett. 
This is the finest Whitetail set of which 1 have knowledge. 
Beam. 26]^ inches. 
Spread, 24 inches. 
Growth above burr, 5% inches. 
Points, 24. 
It was taken on Bonnechere River, Ont., about 1890, by J. Beckett. 

Whitetailed Deer 103 

multitude of observations, made through a course of years, is 
conclusive that nature prompts the animal to denude its antlers 
of their covering at a certain period of its growth, while yet 
the blood has as free access to that covering as it ever had." 

That is to say, the buck voluntarily subjects himself to a 
painful operation while yet the horn is living and sensitive. 
Why ? There must be good reason. I can only suppose that 
the earlier his antlers are cleaned, the sooner he can enter the 
arena in which wives go to the winner; natural selection, there- 
fore, would tend to foster the habit. 

All summer he has been living as quietly as the doe; 
sometimes frequenting the same places, but ignoring her if they 
chance there together. The margin of the forest and of the 
lake have powerful charms for him now, not only for his food 
supply, but because there he knows he can protect himself 
at once from the torment of the flies and the fiercer summer 
heat. In Audubon and Bachman^^ we find a most interesting 
case which shows his method of doing this, as well as the cun- 
ning of the old buck: 

**To avoid the persecution of mosquitoes and ticks, it 
occasionally, like the Moose in Maine, resorts to some stream 
or pond and lies for a time immersed in the water, from which 
the nose and a part of the head only project. We recollect 
an occasion when, on sitting down to rest on the margin of the 
Santee River, we observed a pair of antlers on the surface of 
the water near an old tree, not ten steps from us. The 
half-closed eye of the buck was upon us; we were without 
a gun, and he was, therefore, safe from any injury we could 
inflict on him. Anxious to observe the cunning he would 
display, we turned our eyes another way and commenced a 
careless whistle, as if for our own amusement, walking grad- 
ually toward him in a circuitous route, until we arrived within 
a few feet of him. He had now sunk so deep in the water that 
an inch only of his nose and slight portions of his prongs were 
seen above the surface. We again sat down on the bank for 

*•' Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 223. 

104 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

some minutes, pretending to read a book. At length we sud- 
denly directed our eyes toward him and raised our hand, 
when he rushed to the shore and dashed through the rattling 
canebrake in rapid style/' 

Late September is the season of nuts, and nuts are to the 
Deer what honey is to the Bear. Acorns in particular are their 
delight, and groves of oaks become a daily haunt of the re- 
united family. The effect of such rich food in quantity is 
quickly seen. 

*' Indeed," says Caton,^^*'it is astonishing to see how rap- 
idly a buck and a doe will improve as soon as the acorns 
begin to fall. Ten days are sufficient to change a poor Deer 
to a fat one at the time when the summer coat is discarded and 
the glossy winter dress appears." 

In view of this Deer's fondness for acorns it is interesting 
to note that in Sargent's map" the distribution of oaks in Amer- 
ica east of the Rockies coincides closely with the range of the 

SOCIAL If the Whitetail had any games or places of meeting, we 

MENTs should find them used at this season, when all are fat and free 
from care. But, so far as I have been able to learn, they do not 
slide, play "tag," or "king of the castle," splash or chase each 
other in circles, or in any way show that they have taken the 
first steps in the evolution of amusement. 

RUT As October comes on another change sets in with the 

bucks. Their necks begin to swell and their mating instincts 
to arouse. Hitherto they have been indifferent to the does 
when they met by chance, but now they set out to seek them. 
Of this I saw some signs on the Ottawa as early as the 15th of 
September. George Linklater, the guide there, assures me 
that he saw two bucks in full chase of a doe on the loth of 

** Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 308. 

*' Atlas, Rep. Forest Trees N. A., loth Census Office U. S. Dept. Int., 1884. 

Whitetailed Deer 105 

But the females are of another mind. 

*'The pursuit of the doe by the buck commences before 
her season has arrived, and hence for two or three weeks she 
remains as secluded as possible. He follows her track with 
his nose to the ground, and when started from her bed the race 
is very spirited." (Caton.'"'*) 

An old hunter writes:'^" "Should anyone, hunting at this 
time in a good Deer range, observe a doe by herself, galloping 
along with her tail down, ever and anon looking back as if 
looking for something in pursuit and acting as if she were en- 
deavouring to secrete herself, he should lose no time in availing 
himself of the situation." 

This advice Dr. Bachman seems to have followed many 
years before it was given. He relates i"" *'We were one 
autumnal morning seated on a log in the pine lands of Carolina 
when a doe came running past us. In the course often minutes 
we observed a buck in pursuit, wi'th his nose near the ground, 
following in all the windings of her course. Half an hour 
afterward came a second buck, and during another interval 
a third small buck pursued the same trail." 

The buck does not gather around him a band of does 
as does the successful bull Wapiti, and it is sometimes said that 
he does not issue any sort of challenge. But the following 
curious paragraph by "Bachelor""^ shows that he has both 
the disposition and the voice to challenge at times: 

''Some years since, * * * I was still-hunting in Arkansas. 
* * * I had been standing several minutes when I heard three 
successive sounds, or noises, that were much louder and coarser 
than the whistle or snort of any Deer I had previously heard. 
At first I thought it some other animal, but presently he was 
in sight, and when within about 200 yards of me he ran into 
a flock of turkeys. He would single one out and chase it 
away, then another, until he had chased off nine or ten, likely 
all of the flock, when he returned to the line or track he was 

^Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 307. 

"A. Y. Walton, Forest and Stream, June 15, 1895, p. 485. 

•oQuad. N. A., 1877, Vol, II, p. 227. 

•' Forest and Stream, October 5, 1895, P- 292. 

106 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

following and came on, part of the time trotting and part of 
the time walking, but all the time travelling as if he were track- 
ing something. When within eighty yards of me he came on 
my track and stopped, turning half around, giving me a fine shot. 
He was only a 3-point buck, and rather small for a 3-pointer, 
but he seemed to be on the warpath, judging by the way 
he chased the turkeys, and he seemed to care very little for 
me. Now, I have frequently heard Deer whistle when 
frightened, and have heard them snort from some cause, but 
this Deer made altogether a louder and different noise from 

George Crawford and Linklater, guides of Mattawa, 
Ont., assure me that at this season the bucks utter a peculiar 
call, like a sheep bleating or like the creaking of two trees 
rubbing together. 

As November, the true rutting time, draws near, the necks 
of the bucks become enormously enlarged. As early as the 
last week in October, Merriam measured^- the neck of a buck 
that was 30 inches in circumference, only 10 inches behind the 
ear. Ordinarily it would have been about 20 around. The 
maximum development is attained about the middle of Novem- 
ber, which is also the height of the rut. 

A buck whose neck was 7^'] inches around, is recorded by 
A. N. Cheney.^' 
NovEM- Their whole nature seems to undergo a corresponding 

BER r <3 

MAD- change at this time, and by November they are blind and mad 
with desire, as well as ready and eager to fight any of their own 
or other kind that seems likely to hinder their search for a 

"At this season [says Merriam**] the bucks not only fight 
among themselves, but occasionally attack man, and more 
than one unfortunate person has been gored to death by them. 
In battle they make use of their horns, and also of their fore- 

'^Merriam's Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 116. 

"•^ First Annual Report N. Y. State F. G. & F. Com., 1896, p. 201. 

"Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 117. 

Whitetailed Deer 107 

feet, whose sharp hoofs are capable of inflicting terrible wounds. 
I was once sitting quietly on a log in a Deer park when a buck 
approached, and, making a sudden spring, dealt me such a 
powerful blow on the head with the hoofs of his fore-feet, as to 
render me unconscious. No sooner was I thrown upon the 
ground than the vicious beast sprang upon me and would 
doubtless have killed me outright had it not been for the 
intervention of a man, who rushed at him with a club and 
finally drove him off." 

A similar experience is related by J. Parker Whitney. 

**It is very rare [he says"^] that a buck, however large and 
savage, will charge a stalker without provocation, but occasion- 
ally in the mating season, when wounded, they will charge. I 
had an encounter of this kind in 1859, on my second visit to 
this region, from which I escaped with scarcely a scratch, killing 
a buck which dressed up 230 pounds, with a single heart- 
thrust of my hunting-knife. It was before the day of the re- 
peating rifles. I had barely time to drop my rifle and step 
aside and draw my hunting-knife when I was borne down into 
the snow by the weight of the descending buck, which I caught 
about the neck, and as he rose drove my knife to the hilt in 
his chest at the junction of the throat, severing his wind- 
pipe and splitting his heart. Death was instantaneous. I 
had difficulty in withdrawing myself quickly enough to escape 
the red torrent of life-blood which gushed forth." 

If, however, the Deer is the conqueror, he never ceases to 
batter, spear, and trample his victim as long as any sign of life 

Several hunters have related to me how, when downed in 
the snow by some furious buck, they have saved their lives by 
feigning death. Their stillness convinced the stag that his 
revenge was complete, and he slowly withdrew, casting, never- 
theless, many a backward glance to satisfy himself that truly 
his foe was done for. 

But it is for the rival of his own race that his weapons 

"Forest and Stream, December 26, 1896, p. 508. 

108 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

are grown and his fiercest animosity poured out. Strange to 
tell, in battles with his own kind his antlers prove almost 
wholly weapons of defence. Desperate effort and trifling 
bloodshed seems to be a fair summary of the usual fight be- 
tween two bucks. 

A typical duel is thus described by Judge Caton:^® 

"The battle was joined by a rush together like rams, their 
faces bowed nearly to a level with the ground, when the clash 
of horns could have been heard at a great distance; but they 
did not again fall back to repeat the shock, as is usual with 
rams, but the battle was continued by pushing, guarding, and 
attempting to break each other's guard, and goading whenever 
a chance could be got, which was very rare. It was a trial of 
strength and endurance, assisted by skill in fencing and activity. 
The contest lasted for two hours without the animals being 
once separated, during which they fought over perhaps half 
an acre of ground. Almost from the beginning, both fought 
with their mouths open, for they do not protrude the tongue 
prominently like the ox, when breathing through the mouth. 
So evenly matched were they that both were nearly exhausted, 
when one at last suddenly turned tail to and fled; his ad- 
versary pursued him but a little way. I could not detect a 
scratch upon either sufficient to scrape off the hair, and the 
only punishment suffered was fatigue and a consciousness of 
defeat by the vanquished." 

Still the affair must be considered a success, because it 
answers its purpose — it decides what the combatants set out to 
learn, namely, which is the better buck. 

DURA- The rut of the Whitetail buck seems to be of unusual 

THE RUT duration — commonly as long as two months. We cannot 
suppose it to be the same with the does. Many observations 
and inquiries lead me to conclude that the buck Whitetail is 
usually seen with one doe, sometimes with two, rarely with 
three, never more. It seems probable that the buck fore- 
gathers with some suitable female as soon as possible; but 

®^ Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 307. 

Whitetalled Deer 109 

her devotion does not last as long as his — no, not a quarter 
as long; and when she is no longer responsive he seeks 
another mate or mates. His menage may be entirely 
changed, therefore, two or three times during the autumn 
period of excitement. 

Thus the Whitetail, though far from monogamous, very 
flagrantly bigamous indeed, is still the least polygamous of our 

In this connection, I note with interest that often the 
buck is seen leading the band; whereas, in the polygamous 
Wapiti and Red-deer, the leader is usually an old doe. One 
naturally asks the question, Is female leadership a penalty of 
polygamy .? It would seem an inevitable outcome of the ap- 
proved doctrine that the majority must be right. 

In mid December, after this annual climax of their lives 
is over, the jealousies, the animosities, the aspirations of the 
males, the timidities and anxieties of the females are gradually 
forgotten. The Mad Moon wanes, a saner good-fellowship 
persists, and now the Whitetails — male, female, and young — 
roam in bands that are larger than at any other time of the 
year. Food is plentiful, and they fatten quickly, storing up 
(even as do Squirrel and Beaver) for the starvation-time 
ahead — only the Deer store it up in their persons, where it is 
available as soon as needed, where it helps to cover them from 
the cold, and whence it cannot be stolen, except "over 
their dead bodies," by a burglar stronger than the house- 
holder himself. 

They wander thus, in their own little corner of the wilder- 
ness, till deepening snows cut down their daily roaming to a 
smaller reach, and still deeper till their countless tracks and 
trails, crossing and recrossing, make many safe foot-ways 
where the food is best, though roundabout them, twenty feet 
away, is the untrodden and deep-lying snow, that walls them 
in and holds them prisoners fast until its melting sets them free 
to live these many chapters over again. 

110 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

TAMA- Experience shows that young Whitetails, taken after they 

have begun to run with the mother, are so fully possessed of the 
feral nature that they remain wild and distrustful for the rest 
of their days in spite of all efforts to tame them; but that if 
caught during the hiding period of infancy, they are as easy to 
tame as puppies. Nevertheless, those who are tempted by 
opportunity would be warned that a Deer is the most treacher- 
ous of pets. The only change that domestication makes in 
them is to rob them of their fear of man. Their fierce, comba- 
tive disposition remains and is ever ready to break out. Not 
only children and women but many strong men have met with 
tragic ends from some tame Deer — doe as often as buck — 
that was supposed to be the gentlest, loveliest creature on 

Merriam says:" "Both my father and myself have been 
knocked flat on the ground by being struck in the abdomen by 
the fore-feet of a very harmless looking doe." 
TREACH- I recollect a case that happened near Lindsay, Ont., dur- 

PETs ing my early life. A tame Deer was confined in a certain 
orchard. The grandmother from the adjoining farm, paying 
a call, chanced to take a short cut through that orchard. 
Hours afterward they found the shapeless remains of her body, 
cut and trampled to rags by the feet of the pet Deer that she 
had fed a hundred times. 

One might easily collect scores of instances to show that 
all our American species of Deer — not only the bucks in autumn, 
but bucks or does in spring, summer, autumn, or winter — 
after the second year, may become dangerous animals, and are 
almost sure to become so if not fully inspired with fear of man. 

Dr. W. T. Hornaday, who has had probably as much ex- 
perience with captive animals as any man living in America, 
also writes a word of warning on the subject:®^ 

*' During the season immediately following the perfect 
development of the new antlers — say September, October, 
November — male Deer, Elk, Caribou, and Moose sometimes 
become as savage as whelp-robbed tigers. The neck swells 

"Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 117. ** Amer. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 121. 

Whitetailed Deer ill 

far beyond its natural size, the eye-pits distend, and the buck 
goes stalking about with ears laid back and nostrils expanded, 
fairly spoiling for a fight. I have seen stags that were mild and 
gentle during eight or nine months of the year suddenly trans- 
formed into murderous demons, ready and anxious to stab to 
death any unarmed man who ventured near. 

"At first a buck walks slowly up to his victim, makes a wry 
face, and with his sharp new antlers makes believe to play with 
him. Not wishing to be punctured, the intended victim lays 
hold of the antlers and seeks to keep them out of his vitals. On 
finding himself opposed the buck begins to drive forward like a 
battering ram, and then the struggle is on. Heaven help the 
man thus attacked, if no other help is near! He shuts his 
teeth, grips the murderous bone spears with all his strength, 
leans well forward, and, with the strength and nimbleness of 
desperation, struggles to maintain his grasp and keep his feet. 
Each passing instant the rage of the buck and his joy of com- 
bat increases. If the man goes down, and help fails to come 
quickly, his chances to escape the spears are few. 

"Once, when unarmed and alone, I saved myself from an 
infuriated buck (fortunately a small one) by suddenly releasing 
one antler, seizing a fore-leg down, and pulling it up so high that 
the animal was powerless to lunge forward as he had been doing. 
In this way I held him at bay, and at last worked him to a spot 
where I secured a stout cudgel, with which I belaboured him 
so unmercifully that he was conquered for that day. 

"The strength and fury of a buck of insignificant size are 
often beyond belief. The loving pet of May readily becomes 
the dangerous, fury-filled murderer of October. * * * Do not 
make a pet of any male member of the Deer family after it is 
two years old." 

It is the opinion of all who have studied tame Deer that 
they are more dangerous than tame Bears. A Bear, one knows, 
should be watched, and he has some respect for his friends. 
A Deer is always unsafe for every one, and no man should ever 
expose himself or his family to the possible treachery of such 
a pet. 

112 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

USE TO There is no probability that the Whitetail will ever serve 

man in any domestic capacity, but it will always have a value 
by reason of its singular adaptability and gifts. It is the only 
one of our Deer that can live contentedly and unsuspectedly in 
a hundred acres of thicket. It is the only one that can sit 
unconcernedly all day long while factory whistles and bells are 
sounding around it, and yet distinguish at once the sinister 
twig-snap that tells of some prowling foe, as far away, perhaps, 
as the other noises. It is the only one that, hearing a hostile 
footfall, will sneak around to wind the cause, study its trail, 
and then glide, cat-like, through the brush to a further haven, 
without even trying to see the foe who thus gets no chance for 
a shot. It is the least migratory, the least polygamous, the least 
roving, as well as the swiftest, keenest, shyest, wisest, most 
prolific, and most successful of our Deer. It is the only one 
that has added to its range; that, in the North and West, has 
actually accompanied the settler into the woods; that has 
followed afar into newly opened parts of New England and 
Canada; that has fitted its map to man's, and that can hold 
its own on the frontier. 

I shall always remember a scene at a mining-camp in 
Gilpin County, Col., some years ago. The Whitetailed Deer 
was known to have come into the region within a few years, 
and the Mule Blacktail was growing scarce. A man came in 
and said, as he stamped ofif the snow: "I just scared up a 
couple of Deer on the ridge." 

An old hunter there became interested at once; he was 
minded to go, and reached for his gun. But, stopping, he said: 
''Whitetail or Blacktail.?" 

"Whitetail," was the reply. 

"That settles it. A Blacktail I could get, but a scared 
Whitetail knows too much for me." 

He sat down again and resumed his pipe. 

The Whitetail is the American Deer of the past and the 
American Deer of the future. I have no doubt that whatever 
other species drop out of the hard fight, the Whitetail will 

Whitetailed Deer 113 

flourish in all the region of the plough as lon^ as there . 

In some ways it is no better game than others of our horned 

o™ r; ,"?: 't'r '' "> '- ^" "--^' ^^g-^. "-"1 

to exist m all parts of the country. 

As a domestic animal it has not proved a success- but it 
may have another mission. The hunter makes the high;st tvpe 
of soldier and the Whitetail malces the highest type of hunte 

mie': o7 h V"f' ^ '°-''^^- ^'^^ wLetairtrained th 
traTn d °', R °'""T~^"'=" ^' *'^ Antelope of the Veldt 
traned the Boers-and may supply the vital training of the 
country s .n the future. When this people no loneer 

men cease to take pleasure in beautiful wild life-then onlv can 
we afford to lose the Whitetail Deer. ^ 


Mule-deer, Mule Blacktail, Rocky Mountain Black- 
tail, Bounding Blacktail, or Jumping-deer. 

Odocotleus hemionus (Rafinesque). 

(Gr. Odocoileus, see ante; Gr. hemionos, a half-ass or mule. ) 

Cervus hemionus Rafinesque, 1817, Am. Month. Mag., I, 

October, p. 436. 
Odocoileus hemionus Merriam, 1 897, Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., 

XII, p. 100. 
Type Locality. — Mouth of Sioux River, South Dakota. 

French Canadian, le Dam fauve a queue noire; 

le Cerf mulet. 
Cree, Ap-ts-chich'-i-koosh or Ah-pe-tchi-mu-sis' 

(small Moose). 
Wood Cree & Saut., Muk-i-ti-wah' -no-wish 

(black tail). 
Yankton Sioux, Tah-chah. 
Ogallala Sioux, Tah-hen-cha'-la. 

When seen alive the Mule-deer strikes one as a large Deer 

with immense ears and white face which bears a large black 

patch on the forehead. From behind it shows an angular 

whitish patch taking in the tail, which latter has a black tip. 

To the generic characters it adds the following: 

SIZE Length, about 5§ feet (1,677 iTini-)j tail, 7 inches (177 

' mm.); hind-foot, 19I inches (495 mm.); length of ear, about 

10 inches (254 mm.); metatarsal gland, about 5 inches long 

(127 mm.). 

The females are smaller. 
WEIGHT A typical buck killed in Colorado, October i, 1 901, weighed 

21 5I pounds. The largest of 5 that I weighed was 243I 
pounds live weight, but I was told that specimens of 300 


Mule-deer 115 

pounds weight were often taken. A doe killed in the Upper 
Wind River, Wyoming, weighed, after bleeding, 1371 pounds 

fVtnter or blue coat.-Tht above Colorado buck was in colour 
general of a warm brownish gray, thickly peppered with black 
tips and rings on the individual hairs. The inside of legs the 
belly, and patch on buttocks are white. The face and throat 
are dull white with a large black patch on the forehead and a 
black bar around the chin. The tail is white, except the bunch 
on the tip, which IS black all around. The legs below the knees 
and hocks are clear sienna brown. Sometimes the breast is 
brownish black. 

This represents the blue coat; a month earlier it would 
have been much darker and slatier. 

Summer or red coat.—Tht red coat appears in May and summer 
IS worn till late August. It is rusty yellow rather than red; coaT 
the head, tail, and legs change little with the season. 

The female is similar to the male, but duller. The fawn 
IS dull yellowish, thickly spotted with white, as with the rest of 
the family. 

Change of coat.~Tht change from the very red coat to change 
the very blue is made in Colorado about the end of August °^ ''''^''' 
The vigorous individuals are first to turn blue, the sickly last. 
As the change is somewhat abrupt and irregular it results in 
some very irregular effects and surprises. On September 3 
1 saw a Deer in red coat except the head, which was in blue 
On September 4 I startled a fawn out of a thicket. As he 
passed into the open I saw that he was in bright red coat but 
he took alarm, retreated into the thicket, and when he came out 
on the other side he was in bright blue. This was neither an 
optic illusion nor a lightning change. I found that he was all 
blue on the left side and all red on the other. Possibly this was 
a left-handed fawn that always lay on the left side, and so had 
completely worn the coat off there before it was broken on the 

This red coat is remarkably conspicuous in the woods. 
It cannot be called protective, unless, perhaps, when the animal 
IS among the red willows. 

116 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Five races of this species are recognized : 

hemionus Raf., the typical form. 

californicus Caton, with a dark stripe from the back 

along upper surface of tail. 
peninsuloe Lyddeker, very small and brightly 

eremicus Mearns, very pale. 
canus Merriam, very small, pale, and gray. 

From the Coast B\3.ckX2W{0 . columhianus)t]\t Mule Black- 
tail may be distinguished 
at once by the tail, which 
in columbianus is tapering 
from the base, and all above 
black, all below white ; and by 
the metatarsal gland, which 
is about 3 inches long on 
the Coast Deer and about 5 
inches on the Mule-deer. 

Similarly, from the Vir- 
ginian Deer or Whitetail it 
may be distinguished by the 
style of tail (which see) and 
the metatarsal gland, which 
in the Whitetail is about i 
inch long (Fig. 15). 
HISTORY Spaniard and Frenchman saw the Mule-deer long before 

any of the English race, but it was not described and named 
on paper till Lewis and Clark, in 1804, went up the Missouri 
on their famous journey. September 17 of that year, when 
on the Missouri below Sioux River, they wrote:* 

"Among our acquisitions to-day were a Mule-deer, etc. 
* * * Captain Lewis and some men went out to hunt and 
killed * * * two Blacktailed Deer. * * * The Blacktailed or 
Mule-deer have much larger ears than the common Deer, and 

* Lewis and Clark, Coues edition, 1893, Vol. i, p. 121. 


Fig. 37 — Typical Tails. 

1. Whitetail. 

2. Mule-deer. 

3. Coast Blacktall. 

Mule-deer 117 

tail almost without hair except at the end where there is a 
bunch of black hair." 

From this description Rafinesque, in 1817, gave it its first 
scientific name — hemionus, or 'the Mule.' 

The name Jumping Deer, widely used in Manitoba, is 
derived from its wonderful gait. 


The range, as set forth on Map 6, shows a surpris- range 
ingly large extent of country — many faunal areas indeed — 
covered by the typical hemionus, without the appearance of cor- 
responding races. In Manitoba it is barely holding its own, but 
on the Athabaska River it seeems to be spreading with agri- 
culture. In ancient days it seems not to have ranged below 
Athabaska Landing, whereas now it is well known at least as 
far as Fort McMurray. 

This is essentially a Deer of the lower hills or broken en- 
ground that is partly wooded. If we chart all the high moun- ment 
tains, thd open plains, the dense continuous woods, and the 
swamps within the Mule-deer's range, and compare the result 
with a particular map of the animal's distribution, we shall 
find that the former are devoid of this species. 

Reference to the map (p. 119) shows that the keen-eyed dis- num- 
coverers of this Deer recognized it for a new kind as soon as 
they entered its country, from which we may also infer that 
it was abundant. 

But what is meant by abundance .? The September of 
1 901 I spent in the Flat-tops of Colorado, a favourite local- 
ity for the Mule Blacktail. During 27 days in wooded country 
I saw 750 Deer within easy rifle range. And they were not in 
herds at the time, but scattered; indeed, all seen were either 
single animals or families. Each day I saw from 10 to 80 
Deer in a three or four mile walk. But the view was limited 
by the woods, so that I accepted the guide's estimate that they 

118 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

numbered as high as 200 Deer to the square mile in favourite 
localities. But all localities are not equally good; 50 to the 
square mile would be more representative. 

Yet everyone assured me that the Deer had greatly 
decreased in late years; that, indeed, they were not half so 
numerous as five years before, at which time 100 to the 
square mile might have prevailed throughout this high and 
favourite Deer country. The map shows that the chosen 
area is about 200 square miles, which would imply 20,000 
Deer — figures which are more than justified by the reports 
of those who have watched along the main trail in the autumn, 
when these Deer move out to their winter home on the lower 
plains of Utah. 

The total area of Blacktail country is 2,500,000 square 
miles. But it varies so in attractiveness that the Deer could 
not average more than 5 to the square mile; 10,000,000 would 
be a liberal allowance for the primitive Blacktail numbers. 
Thus they were far less numerous than the Whitetail. 

On the other hand, they are far easier to kill. Their 
habits and their haunts lay them open to wholesale slaughter 
such as the Whitetail never knew. E. J. Duchesnay, C. E., 
of Ottawa, Ont., tells me that in the later 8o's the winter haunts 
of the Blacktail in southern British Columbia were invaded by 
skin hunters. Thousands of the hides were sold at 25 cents a 
piece and the meat left in the woods to rot — a shameless 
destruction that finds a parallel among modern Egyptians, 
who, in their brutal blindness, are using priceless ancient 
papyri for fire-lighters. 

Such methods could have but one result — the desolation 
of the range. 

In September, 1896, I rode for 15 miles across the Bad- 
lands of the Little Missouri, with Howard Eaton, and saw 
in that time 3 Blacktail. Ten years before he had made that 
same ride and had seen 160. Since then they have further 
diminished. These figures unfortunately represent the shrink- 
age of the whole population. Although the nominal range is 
little changed it is probable that the present number of this 


OJocoileus hcmionus (Raf.j 

The outline remains to-dav, thouRh in many districts the species is exterminated. This map is founded on the accounts of numerous 
travellers, with personal experieiice in every State included, except Mexico, and on Dr. C. Hart Mcrriam's map in The Deer Family, 1903. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 



Deer is not a fiftieth of what it was; 400,000 as an estimate 
of Mule Blacktail to-day is not under the facts. I hope it is 
not too high. 

This Deer was scarce when first I came to Manitoba, in 
1882. In all the region south of Carberry, between the Pine 
River and Sewell, there were, so the Indians told me, only 13 
Deer. At all events, when one Chaska got that number in 
those sandhills there seemed to be none left. 

In 1885 Deer were very scarce, but thanks to good game 
laws they have greatly increased and now exist in larger num- 
bers than at any time since the settlement of the Province. 
They are found in all the Alleghanian region, where there is 
dry rolling country and cover. 

ANTLERS The antlers are very dlff^erent from those of Whitetail, 
but resemble, somewhat, those of the Coast Deer. They are 

what scientists 
call dichoto- 
mous, that is, 
they are an ar- 
rangement of 
even forks, in- 
stead of having 
a main branch 
with snags. 
This, of course, 
is the type; the 
variations from 
it are endless, as 
suggested by the 
illustrations (Figs. 38 to 51). Their history of growth is much 
the same as that of the Whitetail. 

It is well known that the horns are in close touch with 
the sexual organs, and that any change, injury, or effect on these 
organs, is at once reflected in the horns. A remarkable illus- 
tration came from Colorado some years ago. Edwin Carter 

No. 38 — A remarkable Wyoming head. 
In collection of Lewis S. Thompson, of Red Bank, N. J. 



Fig. 39 — Mule-deer freak antlers. 

1. Killed in Eg^eria Park, Colo. Now in E. Carter Collection. 

2. IJlacktail horns of Whitetail type. Taken near Meeker, Colo., 1894, by E. Campbell. 

3. Taken near Meeker, Colo., in 1899, by Charles Givens. 

tells me that the cowboys of Routt and Rio Blanco counties 
got the idea that they could improve the quality of their venison 
by castrating a large number of bucks. In the spring round-up 
of 1 89 1 or thereabouts they castrated every Blacktail fawn 
they could find, and there were many. 

The only known result was that in the years that followed 
some extraordinary freak antlers were seen among the Black- 
tail. The most curious one that I saw is illustrated in Fig. 46. 

The tail of a Deer should always be noticed by the sports- tail 
man. It is the surest easy external mark of identification for 
those not skilled in anatomy; that of the Mule-deer is shown in 
Fig. 37, No. 2. 

Though the coat in general is changed twice a year, the 
hair on the tail, as Caton points out,^ is shed but once a year, 
and the black switch on the tail of the present species is never 
shed at all. Thus it has passed through many stages of a 

*Ant. and Deer Amer., 1S77, p. 242. 

Fig. 43 — A 3-antlered head. 

From Meeker, Colo.. 1S92. Collection of W. R, McFadden, Denver. 

Spread, 25 inches. 

Fig. 40 — A 32-point head. 

Fig. 41 — Br. Columbia head. 
In Vancouver Club, Victoria, B. C. Spread, 30}^ inches. 

Fig. 44 — From Vernon, B. C. 

Collection of W. F. Cameron. Spread. 36 inches. From photo. 

by C. W. Holliday. 

Fig. 42— Collected by G. M. Fear at Banff, Aha, in fall of 1893. 

The buck was very old and very large; antlers still in velvet. Spread, 

39 inches. 

Fig. 45 — A 29-pointer. 

29.inch spread. Taken at Banff, Alta. Now in collection of T. Wilson. 


Fig. 46— Antler of emasculated buck. 
Colorado. Feb., 1896. K. Carter Collection. 

Fig. 49— From Swan River, Man., Dec, 1906. 
Collection of E. W. Darbey. 

Fig. 47— Taken near Meeker, Colo., about Nov. i, looo 
by John Marshall. ' 

Spread, 26 inches. 

Fig. so— Taken at Banff, Alta., by T. Wilson, fall of 18 
At X the bone is 5 inches wide. 

Fig. 48-raken in Routt Co., Colo., by W. R. McFadden, 


Fig. 51 — Taken near Meeker, Colo., about 1898. 
Spread. 25 inches. Collection of Blain & Purdy. 

124 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

peculiar process. Most products of the skin are shed period- 
ically — for example, the hairy coat of mammals, the outer skin 
of snakes, the feathers of birds — but some more highly special- 
ized products, as the teeth of a snake, are shed at long intervals; 
those of still higher developments, as the rattle of a rattlesnake, 
the mane of a horse, or the beard of a gobbler, are so "ex- 
pensive" that nature has economized in ordaining that they 
never be shed at all. Of this class are also the horns of a 
rhinoceros and the tuft on the Blacktail's tail. 

The movements of the tail are as characteristic and ex- 
pressive as its form. In bounding away the Whitetail holds 
its banner aloft and waves it from side to side. The Mule 
Blacktail carries its tail drooped and swings its black tuft back 
and forth over the white disk. Both species drop and quiver 
the tail when they are struck by the hunter's bullet. 

VOICE, Though rather a silent Deer, this species has a number of 


sounds, with variations of each. The one most often heard is 
the "snort" or "blowing" of curiosity. The next is the 
whistle, simply a higher pitched and longer snort; this ex- 
presses alarm. The hunters generally credit the mother Deer 
with the utterance of a low, soft, murmuring sound, as she 
comes to the place where the fawn is hidden; a sound intended, 
no doubt, to let the little one know who it is that comes. And 
under circumstances of dire extremity, the does at least will 
utter a bleating like a sheep. Roosevelt credits^ the bucks 
with uttering a barking challenge during the rutting season. 
The fawn, as is well known, bleats to call the mother's attention, 
especially when hungry or lost. 

Another sound that is much used is made by the stamping 
with the forefoot. I have heard it when it seemed to mean 
defiance, but usually it means alarm, and spreads news of 
danger among those farther off. 

MI- The Blacktail is a migratory Deer in most of its range. 

GRANT o ^ o 

Whenever so placed that a journey of loo miles will take it 

' The Deer Family, 1903, p. 48. 

Mule-deer 125 

from high, bleak, and stormy, to low, warm, and sheltered, it 
fails not to travel in due season, and settle in bands where there 
is sufficient promise of food and cover. 

In the Bitterroots of Idaho the Blacktail seemed scarce 
when I camped there in September and October, 1902. I did 
not see half a dozen during that time, and the tracks were far 
from plentiful. Yet every winter, the guides assured me, 700 
to 800 Blacktail could be seen in a six-mile walk along that 
same creek. 

The best-defined migration that I know of takes place 
each year in the Colorado Rockies. All summer long the Deer 
on the Flat-tops flourish, as already described, but the first 
touch of winter, usually in the early part of October, sends out 
the whole population, almost in a body, to seek some winter 
range where the snow is less dangerously deep. 

Following the well-known, well-worn pathways, they travel 
steadily downward and westward. Their numbers increase 
as they go and the pathways become more worn and less numer- 
ous until, after a journey of 100 to 150 miles, they reach the 
open and semi-arid brakes of the Uintah country in Utah. 

By coming here they eliminate at least the danger of deep 
snow, but the region is full of enemies, and the survivors of 
the host very gladly turn their noses to the hills again, as soon 
as the melting of the upper snow permits it. 

In Manitoba I have seen no sign of such migration. The 
Deer that frequent the sandhills south of Carberry are, so 
far as I know, quite stationary. For the obvious reason that 
there they find plenty of cover and food, and not too much snow, 
they cannot better themselves by any seasonal change of sur- 

In my many hunting-trips in the hills about Carberry, home 
during the early 8o's, I noticed that the Blacktail was satisfied 
with a very small home ground, if let alone. I knew a band 
of three or four Deer that spent several weeks in a wood of less 
than 100 acres, on the north side of Mitchell's Plain. When at 
length driven out of this they circled around Chaska-water, 

126 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the Lookout Hill, and sometimes went as far west as the 
Sewell woods and south to the Big Swamp, but never, so far 
as I could learn, more than four or five miles from their 
central woods. To this they always returned in a few days, 
as it abounded in good cover and the peavine that affords 
their favourite winter food. 

Another band that I knew in the eastern sandhills showed 
the same adherence to a small locality along Pine Creek. The 
farthest south at which I found these at any time was Lee's 
Sandhill, that is, 4 or 5 miles from home. 

From these observations and the corroboration of several 
hunters I conclude that the winter range of the Blacktail is 
but five or six miles across. In more open country it may 
be larger, in rougher country very much smaller. 

During the summer I suspect they are satisfied with a 
still more limited home ground, since the hunters and hunger — 
their two great incentives to travel — are then inoperative. 

In Colorado I was told of one large buck that for five 
years inhabited the little valley of Iker's Creek. 

I remember a Deer, a barren doe, that lived all summer 
(1892) on the south side of Chaska-water (west of Carberry, 
Manitoba), within a mile of the lake. I am not sure that it 
was the same animal, but think so, because the Deer were 
exceedingly scarce that year; I saw tracks of only one Deer, 
never those of bucks or fawns; I saw these near the water, but 
none whatever in the belt of country farther away on each side; 
its whole range, then, was less than two square miles. 

Thus each fresh observation seems to reduce further 
the extent of the individual range. Nevertheless, I think 
that the Blacktail's home region is larger than that of the 

LIFE The opening of the year with the Romans, the Indians, and 

all the wild things, including the Blacktail Deer, is the end of 
winter. Then comes the new birth, the new hope, the new 
start, the real new year. Let us, therefore, begin to follow 
the Blacktail from the New Year's Day of the Wilds. 

Mule-deer 127 

The mixed company of all ages and sexes that wintered 
together take advantage of the melted snow and better forage 
to scatter from the place where common interest in the food 
supply had kept them together. There is in particular a 
repulsion between the sexes: if two Deer go off together at 
this time they are two bucks or two does, but never buck and 

The association of pairs of bucks is a curious, well-known bucks 

Among the Red-deer of Scotland it is the rule for each 
big stag to have with him, all summer, a small stag as attendant 
or "squire." This follower is said to do sentinel duty for his 
superior at all times except during the rut, when he is most 
unceremoniously driven about his business elsewhere. Whether 
any parallel to this exists in the present species remains to be 
seen. It is, of course, quite common to see two bucks living 
together all summer, and one is usually bigger than the other, 
but observations are lacking to explain their relationship. 

The does become still less sociable as the May moon does 
wanes, and are now to be seen feeding and living alone. 
Grass and twigs are their staple foods, but there is little of 
vegetable origin that they will not eat. They drink twice a 
day, morning and evening. They are getting fat now and pre- 
paring for the great event of the year— the arrival of the young 
ones. This takes place in late May or in June. In some quiet 
woodsy hollow the i, 2 or, rarely, 3 fawns are born. They fawns 
appear in the white-spotted livery of true fawn-deer. It is like 
that of a young Whitetail, but the ground colour is duller, 
paler, and yellower. 

The mother hides them usually at different points in the 
same thicket and comes to suckle them in the early morn and 
late evening for six or even eight weeks before she allows them 
to follow her. As late as July 30, in Manitoba, I have known 
the fawn to be hidden, though now well grown and probably 
seven or eight weeks old. The mother's vigilance and devo- 
tion at this time are most admirable. Every possible danger 

128 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

is studied, and every creature that might injure her little ones 
is either fought or misled to the utmost of her powers. 

At Carberry, Manitoba, on July 30, 1884, I saw a well- 
grown fawn that was found by Adam Shaw in the sandhills 
near Pine Creek. It had been hiding in the bushes, and was 
caught by the dogs. Its bleating brought the mother. She 
circled about, but did not dare to attack the numerous foe. 
This fawn was raised on cow's milk and — protected by a con- 
spicuous collar — continued for years about Carberry. 

In the latter part of July, 1896, W. R. McFadden, of 
Denver, while riding in the half-open country on the head of 
Calf Creek, in north-western Colorado, 60 miles beyond Hank's 
Peak, discovered a doe Blacktail, with her two fawns, in the 
long grass. He crawled up to within twenty-five feet before 
they saw him. The mother's back, that is, the back of her head, 
was toward him, so he rose up slowly; but she caught a glimpse 
of the enemy, gave a low snort, threw up her head, and sprang 
to one side in three or four bounds, then commenced to "blow" 
or **whistle." 

The fawns slunk into the grass immediately, skulking as 
low as possible, and after going ten feet or so in different direc- 
tions crouched and lay like sage hens, with heads down flat. 
They were about ten feet apart, and although so near to Mc- 
Fadden he had great difficulty in finding them; for, owing to 
the long grass, their stillness, and their colour they were won- 
derfully well concealed. 

The mother ran off a long way, but circled near, whistling 
and trying to lead the intruder away. 

On yet another occasion this fortunate observer was 
favoured with a peep into the nursery life and ways of the 
Blacktail. Early one August, while travelling on the head- 
waters of Trout Creek (between Routt and Rio Blanco Coun- 
ties, Colorado), he saw a fawn with the mother and marked 
down the little one; although he knew within twenty feet of 
where it was, he could not find it in the grass. After looking 
for some time McFadden hid behind a tree. In fifteen or 
twenty minutes he saw a slight movement in the grass, then 

Mule-deer 129 

slowly there came up the head and ears of the fawn. It 
looked cautiously about without rising; then the hunter showed 
himself. In a flash the fawn's head went down and it lay as 
still as a stone, with ears laid back on the neck. McFadden 
stood still within four feet of it, and at length it began to raise 
its head, but again dropped it on seeing him. He stepped 
nearer and stooped down; then the fawn leaped out and disap- 
peared in the woods, not in the direction taken by its mother. 
This was a well-grown buck fawn, and had stub horns an inch 

When I was at Marvine Lodge, Colorado, in September, 
1 901, I met several instances of the mother Blacktail's devo- 
tion. One day a Red-tailed Hawk, wheeling low and whistling 
over the hillside, was fiercely watched by a mother doe, whose 
bristling rump-patch showed what she felt. Doubtless she 
took him for an eagle. 

At the same place, on September 17, William Purdy 
startled a Coyote, which ran across the river flat and up the 
farther hillside. A doe Blacktail with two fawns was on the 
hill, and all three watched the Coyote with intense interest 
until it became clear that he was coming toward them. When 
he was within 50 yards the doe left the fawns and rushed out 
at the enemy. He ran as fast as he could, with the doe in full 
chase, for about 400 yards, then she gave it up and returned in 
triumph to her young ones. 

By the middle of August the fawns are following their 
mother, and now the spots on the coat have become somewhat 

An exceptional case came under my observation in 
Colorado, on September 3, 1901. My pack-train had halted 
while the men shot some grouse. After half a dozen shots 
three fawns got up from the grass among the horses, inspected 
them very deliberately, then quietly walked away. 

By the first of September in Colorado most of the young 
appear in the new uniform coat. On September 7, however, 
I saw two fawns still bearing well-marked spots. By the end 

130 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of the month all the young except the very late ones are 
weaned and appear in the unspotted blue coat. They con- 
tinue with the mother, however, and profit daily by her guidance 
and protection. 

On September 28 I saw one in full blue coat, wandering 
alone and bleating piteously, announcing to all who heard 
that *' here was a lost fawn" — an action not without its dangers, 
for a Lynx or Coyote was as likely to hear as the mother of the 
stray, and would understand the situation just as perfectly. 

THE So far as known, the buck takes no interest in the fawns, 


that is, he lives up to the rule of polygamous animals by ignor- 
ing the mating tie as soon as the season of its grosser pleasures 
is over. I do not, however, believe at all the notion that the 
buck makes a practice of killing the fawns. The thing is im- 
possible on the face of it. This would indeed be *' race suicide." 
There are numberless cases of bucks killing fawns, but 
not, I think, as deliberate murders. It is rather the result of 
the impatient blow or thrust of a strong Deer at another that 
gets in its way, only in this case the second one was so weak 
that the result was fatal. 

THE RUT The mating season of the Mule-deer is at about the same 

time as that of the Whitetail, that is, November is their Moon 
of Madness. But it may last until late in December. On 
December 24, 1884, at Carberry, I saw a pair of this species 
in the full ardour of their time. 

E. Carter, of Breckenridge, Col., tells me that once in the 

autumn he saw two large buck Blacktail and a doe coming over 

a ridge; a long way behind was a small buck. The two big 

^ bucks, after many threats, closed in for a fight, and while so 

engaged the little buck secured the doe. 

Was this a failure of the survival of the fittest, or was it 
proof of the supremacy of mind over matter ? 
FATALi- Fatalities seem to be very rare as a consequence of these 


RARE battles, and all that I can find recorded are the result of inter- 
locked antlers. The antlers themselves are developed along 

Mule-deer 131 

lines that prevent the bucks hurting each other, rather than as 
deadly weapons, and in most cases the battle is little more than 
a pushing bout. 

During winter the Blacktail continue in mixed bands winter 
of all ages and sexes, usually under the leadership of an old 
doe who is the great grandmother of most of them. 

In some favoured parts of the country these winter bands 
become very large. For example, in the Bitterroots, as al- 
ready noted, and on the Okanagan, as I learn from E. J. 
Duchesnay, C. E. About April i, 1892, as he was riding around 
the south-west corner of Dog Lake, which is an expansion of 
Okanagan River, he came on numerous bands of Blacktailed 
Deer, and during the day saw between 400 and 500. At one 
time the bunches were so thick that the whole of a hillside 
seemed moving with Deer. 

Their food at this time is twigs, browse, what ground 
stuff they can get by nosing and pawing under the snow, and 
what tree stuff they can reach by standing on their hind legs. 
The various tree mosses, beardy-mosses, and lichen are es- 
pecially sought after. My guide in that country, Abe Leeds, 
of Hamilton, Mont., described an interesting circumstance in 
the winter life of a fawn. It was in the winter of 1898-9 he 
went with his partner to the Upper Clearwater to build a 
shanty as head-quarters for hunting-trips. Deer were plentiful, 
and some began, as usual, to hang around where they salted 
the horses; among them was a little fawn of the year. He was 
a miserable, pot-bellied little specimen, seeming as though he 
had been left at an early age to shift for himself. He spent 
his whole time about the camp; the men began to put mossy 
branches where he could get them, and soon he came regularly 
to be fed. Each day they cut down a mossy tree for him, and 
at length he would come tearing down the hill as soon as he 
heard the axe, then would stand with his head cocked to one 
side, watching till he saw where the tree was going to fall, and 
would be into the top as soon as it touched the ground. 

A big buck also learned the meaning of the tree-felling, 

132 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and used to come when they were gone and chase the little 
runt away. One day the hunter's partner saw the buck 
throw the runt head over heels, so he seized his gun and 
shot the bully dead. This was the only Deer they killed out 
of season. 

When they came away, in the springtime, the runt was 
there still, but had now grown quite fat. 

Through the winter and spring the young follow the 
mother and get at least the advantage of wise leadership 
and example. When about a year old they leave her, 
probably because she compels them to do so, as an in- 
stinctive preparation for the new family. There is reason, 
however, for believing that the young does continue to 
associate more or less with the mother all through their sec- 
ond season. 

ENEMIES Next after the rifle-bearing hunter the worst enemy of 

the Mule-deer is deep snow. It forms a league with famine to 
hide their food on the ground, and to prevent them travelling 
in search of that which grows higher. It betrays them to yet 
another foe — the Mountain Lion or Cougar. 

When the Blacktail bands come down the mountain to 
settle in winter cover the Mountain Lion does the same. Now 
he knows just where to find his prey; now, thanks to the snow, 
it cannot escape him. He settles down then in the locality as 
in a private game preserve, or like some epicure with a larder 
stocked with game, so richly stocked, indeed, that he is tempted 
into shameful waste. One Deer a week is all he possibly can 
use, and yet I have been assured by such guides as Goff and 
Leeds that in wantonness of slaughter he will kill two or three 
a day until the band is all cleared out, then travel complacently 
over the snow in search of another winter colony. 

Next to Lions we must place the Wolves, which also work 
havoc in the winter yards, but of this I have seen nothing 
personally. Coyotes, Lynxes, eagles, etc., take yearly toll of 
the fawns, but they are not to be reckoned among the danger- 
ous foes of the species. 


Mule-deer 133 

Again and again I have had my attention attracted to rird 
lurking Deer by the bluejay and wiskajon. Every hunter ates 
tells the same story, but it seems that it works both ways. 
These birds are as likely to betray the hunter as the game, and 
many times they warn the Deer of the approaching hunter. 
What good these busybodies get by their interference I cannot 
comprehend. The case is of a kind that is widely known in 
all game countries. 

Every hunter learns, and every wild animal seems to know freez- 
instinctively, the value of "freezing," that is, becoming still 
as a frozen thing, when a stranger is discovered in the woods. 
The motionless object escapes notice and is better placed to 
notice others. The Mule-deer is an adept at freezing. 

On September 3 I met a young buck some 40 yards off 
in the woods. We both froze at the same time. He kept his 
pose for half a minute, then turned and bounded off. 

On the evening of September 6, 1901, my wife and I took 
a walk from camp, near Pagoda Peak, Col. A hundred yards 
away, in an open glade, was a Deer. It raised its head, gazed 
at us, and froze. It was in shadow and we were against the 
sky. We gazed at each other for a minute, then I whispered, 
*'Let us see how long by the watch it will keep on," and cau- 
tiously opened my watch. After one and one-half minutes 
my companion said, "Why, that is no Deer, it's a stump." 
She raised her hand and the Deer bounded off. 

But the most interesting case was noted next day. 

As I went through the woods at sundown I came on a doe. 
She was walking through an open place about 60 yards away, 
but she saw me just as I saw her. In fact, we met face to 
face. At the same moment we both froze and stood gazing, 
each waiting for the other to make the first move. 

I waited three or four minutes at least, but she did not 
stir. Then it occurred to me to time her. I very slowly slid 
my hand up to my watch and stood as before, the Deer still 
watching me. 

One minute — two minutes — five minutes went by, and 

134 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

still the Deer did not move. I began to wonder if I had not 
made a mistake after all, and watched a stump that had some- 
what the form of a Deer. Then I thought, "No, I saw her 
walk there/* Six minutes — eight minutes — ten minutes passed 
and still the Deer stood. 

*'It is not possible," I said to myself, "no Deer would 
stand like that for ten minutes. And yet there she is. That 
was plainly a Deer when it went there." I waited another 
minute — still no move. "I'll give her five minutes more, and 
if there is no move I shall know I have been fooled by a stump." 
Eleven and a half minutes, not counting the time before my 
watch was out, and there was a change, for it was a Deer that 
had been so intently watching me all the time, and it so hap- 
pened that she now decided that she had been fooled by a 
stump. She changed her pose, turned to graze, and I had 
won the game of "freeze." I brought my camera slowly to 
bear and snapped it, but the light was too poor to get a picture. 
The Deer now saw me move and bounded away. 

SLEEP- J. B. Goff tells me that he has often come on Deer standing 

asleep in the daytime, with tightly closed eyes, and has some- 
times approached within twenty feet. One day he watched a 
ranger named Jack Dunn as he crawled up to one of these 
sleeping Deer and caught its hind leg. Then ensued a re- 
markable fight, in which finally Dunn, though much scratched 
and dragged about, succeeded in killing the Deer with his 

BEDS Deer beds are well known in the Deer ranges. They are 

hollow nests in prominent but sheltered places on the hillsides 
and hilltops, roughly circular, and about four feet across. 
They are used continually, possibly by the same individuals, 
and some of them are remarkably deep. One which I exam- 
ined on Wilson's Flat-tops, Col., September 26, 1901, was on 
the hillside facing east and cut down three feet at the back to 
make a comfortable saucer shape. 

At one point on the main trail where it crossed a burnt 
ridge was what the guides called a ''deer hotel." It covered 

Mule-deer 135 

about 25 yards square and contained about 70 beds, all of 
which bore evidence of having been used for years, as well as 
last night. There were 14 tiers of hollows like shelves, the 
largest contained 7 beds, the shortest 3, many were large 
enough for 2 Deer. In each bed the dust was pawed soft and 

The only sanitary efforts of this species seems to be the 
periodic seeking of the salt-licks. So far as I could learn it 
does not make a wallow. 

In origin similar to the beds, but probably akin to the scrapes 
wallows of Elk and Moose, are the "scrapes." These are 
simply areas of about a square yard, scraped clean of grass and 
leaves. They are made in autumn and are usually in moist 
places. I have seen many of them in Colorado, but have no 
evidence beyond the opinions of hunters that they are made 
by the bucks. 

This Deer can swim if it must, but it rarely needs to do it, swim- 
and a photograph by Wallihan shows it to ride very low in the 
water. I imagine it to be the least aquatic of those found in 
our country. 

Tudee Caton has a very poor opinion of the Mule-deer's amuse- 
character. He considers it cowardly and treacherous above 
all its kind, but says:* "The Mule-deer is the only one I 
have ever seen manifest a clear and decided disposition to play. 
This they do something after the manner of lambs, by running 
courses and gambolling about, and running up and down the 
bluffs, manifestly for amusement only. I have once noticed 
something like this in a Common Deer, but at the best it was 
the faintest sort of play, if indeed that was its meaning. * * * 
But the Mule-deer not only amuses itself in the way described, 
but loves to have me join him in a little sham fight, and if I 
handle him a little roughly, or try to throw him down when he 
rears up and places his feet on my shoulders, he will recover and 
jump sideways and backward, twisting himself into grotesque 

* Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, pp. 296-7. 

136 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

attitudes, though he does this in an awkward way. I have not 
observed this disposition to play, after the animal is two or 
. three years old, and the male seems more inclined to it than the 

female. I elsewhere mention that he sometimes appears to 
become very appreciative of his own importance, when he will 
strut around, his tail elevated to a vertical position, as is ob- 
served with the male goat." 

Similar testimony is borne by many Colorado hunters. 
McFadden tells me that he has seen five of the fawns playing 
in this same way. 


CIS- Those who have not thought of it before are surprised to 


AND AC- learn that the old idea of man being the diseased animal is 
without foundation. To such it comes with a shock when 
they learn that practically all animals are more or less diseased, 
that none are perfect. The Mule-deer has many troubles of 
its own, as the following record of Deer examined in Routt 
County, Col., will show: 

September 2, 1901, Lost Creek. Found a dead fawn 
much inflated; did not dissect it. 

September 6, Pagoda Creek. C. E. shot a 2-year-old 
young buck; it weighed 153 pounds and seemed in perfect 
condition, but it had in the back a hole an inch deep as though 
it had been recently snagged. In its intestines was a worm 
12 inches long and \ inch thick; in the fat of the loins was a 
hydatid cyst (embryo of tapeworm) like a bag of jelly about 
I inch by 2 inches. 

This buck had both ears split; it looked, the guide said, 
like the ear-mark of the "Cross-bar Z" Cattle Ranch. 

September 12, Pagoda Creek. L. H. shot a 3-year-old 
buck; it weighed 226I pounds. It was very fat and seemed 
free of all disease. It was accompanying a much larger buck. 

September 18, Lost Park. L. H. shot a large buck. At 
first sight he thought it was an Elk, it was so large and pale in 
colour. It turned out to be a miserable cripple. It had evi- 
dently snagged itself badly some weeks before. There was a 
large hole into the belly; the entrails had been pierced by the 

Mule-deer 137 

spike and much of their contents was loose in the cavity. The 
small bowels were highly inflamed and showed a dark purplish 
red. In the omentum I found over a dozen of the hydatid 
cysts. One corner of one lung was badly congested; the horns 
were large, but still in velvet. It was still in red coat, but this 
was much bleached, very scanty, and harsh. It was miserably 
thin and poor; and I wondered that it could continue to live 
with so many ailments. 

September 21, Wilson's Flat-tops. J. B. shot a fine, fat 
buck. It weighed 243I pounds. Its right hind leg had been 
broken in the middle of the shank (metatarsus) and healed in 
a clumsy knob. This Deer seemed quite healthy, but I found 
in the fat on the bowels 5 of the hydatid cysts. 

September 25, Wilson's Flat-tops. Found a male fawn, 
dead about a week. In blue coat and fine condition, the only 
wound a small hole in the belly just under the loose flank. 
Possibly made by a buck's horn. I did not dissect it. 

September 26, Wilson's Flat-tops, Col. Down by Deer 
Creek I found a female fawn, evidently dead about a week. 
It was in full blue coat and fine condition. Its right eye was 
bloody and there was blood at its nose as though it had been 
killed by a blow, but its neck was not broken. It was much 
blown up with gas. I did not dissect it. Goff says that at this 
season many die of a "bloat." 

September 27, Wilson's Flat-tops. W. P. shot a young 
buck; it weighed 150I pounds. It had no diseases or para- 
sites, but the hoofs of the front feet were much splintered and 
broken, nearly an inch lacking on each. 

October i, Wilson's Flat-tops. G. G. S. shot a large 
buck; it weighed 21 5 j pounds; was in good condition; the 
only sign of disease was a small body like a black bean in the 
omentum, but it had been snagged twice, once slightly in the 
breast and once very deeply in the ham. It had a front leg 
broken, but that was now healed. 

Finally, a curious case was shown me by E. Carter, of 
Breckenridge, in October, 1899. In 1887 one Eli Loback had 
killed a Blacktail in Egeria Park, Col. On being skinned, it 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

proved to have been badly snagged some years before. The 
snag, a dry branch of spruce, 8 inches long and |-inch thick, 
had pierced the shoulder-blade, broken two ribs and entered 8 
inches into the chest, where it still rested. It was completely 
encysted. The animal was fat and healthy (Fig. 52). 

Thus one may well realize that trouble is not exclusively 


Fig. 52 — A. The snag. B. The cap formed over the end by the ribs. C. The Deer, showing course of snag. 

the lot of man, and that our brethren of hoofs and horns have 
their full share, without the human mind to point the way of 
comfort or to aggravate the ills by dwelling on them. 

The Mule-deer walks and trots like others of the Family, 
but when it comes to speeding it does not run like the Whitetail, 
but goes with a peculiar bounding, in which, with little leg 
movement, it rises as by an effort of the toes, leaping from all 
four and landing on all four. This action is seen also in the 
Coast Deer, but is quite different from the much swifter run- 
ning of Whitetail and Antelope. 

In the various parts of its wide range this fine animal has 
received names that reflect one or other of its peculiarities; 
thus Mule-deer or Donkey-deer (Burro) from its ears, Mule- 
tail Deer and Blacktail from its tail. But the best of its many 
names is "Bounding Blacktail"; in this we see the record of 

Fig. 53 — Blacktail, July 5, 1897. 

Fig. 54— Track of Mule Blacktail. 

The rijjht-hand line in deep soft sand. 
Oct. 6, i8<)8. 


140 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

its most wonderful gift. I shall never forget the first time I 
saw this bounding in the sandhills near Carberry. It was my 
first sight not merely of Blacktail but of any wild Deer, and the 
marvellous manner of its flight, as entered in my journal of the 
time, ran thus: 

"I stood gazing at the graceful creatures for a moment or 
two, then they moved off a little and commenced to rise in the 
air with a peculiar bounding movement, although without any 
apparent effort. They seemed to be playing, their movements 
were so entirely without any appearance of haste or alarm. 
It did not occur to me at first that they were running away. 
The idea I had in my mind of a Deer speeding was formed on 
seeing a dog or fox. I expected to see the laboured straining 
and the vast athletic bounds. But no! these evidently had not 
yet commenced to run, they seemed to be merely bounding up 
and down in the air, and it was only on noting the different 
hilltops which their feet touched lightly in succession and by 
seeing the fair, rounded forms rapidly becoming smaller in the 
distance that it dawned on me that now they were flying for 

"Higher and higher they rose each time; gracefully their 
bodies swayed inward as they described a curve along some 
bold ridge, or for a long space the white bannerets seemed 
hanging in the air, while these wingless birds were really sailing 
over a deep gully. I stood gazing until they were out of sight, 
and it never occured to me to shoot. 

"When they were gone I went to their trail, where they had 
appeared to be rising and falling over the same place. Here 
was one track, where was the next .? I looked all round, and 
was surprised to see a blank for 15 feet. I went on — 
another blank, and again and again. The blanks increased 
to 18 feet, then to 20 and then to 25. Each of these playful, 
effortless bounds covered a space of 18 to 25 feet. Ye gods! 
they do not run at all, they fly, and once in a while come down 
again to tap the hilltops with their dainty hoofs." 

There is nothing more poetic in four-legged speed than the 
flight of the bounding Blacktail, and I have shown it to more 

Mule-deer 141 

than one man as a thing which none had ever seen before — 
which I alone had witnessed and discovered. But following 
the wonder and pleasure of the discovery came a disappoint- 
ment — this graceful flight, these light-foot bounds, are not so 
speedy as they seem and not so easy as they look, are frightfully 
laborious indeed. By slow degrees the conviction came that 
the Blacktail, winged as it seems, cannot run with the Whitetail. 
It has not the speed; it has not the endurance; the bounding 
is a thing of grace and beauty, but no more — the low running of 
the Eastern Deer is a better gait. So it seemed, so I believed 
it, as though this were not a contradiction, impossible in nature. 
This much is sure, that for all such strange things there is a 
most excellent reason and it is always rewarding to seek it out. 
Why, then, these mighty, futile bounds ? Thirteen years 
later I learned. Riding the Little Missouri hills, in 1897, with 
a company of wolf-hunters and followed by a pack of diverse 
dogs — trailing dogs, fighting dogs, and greyhounds, fleetest 
of their race to overtake the flying foe, we came by chance on a 
prey we sought not — a Blacktail mother with her twins. 
Great-eyed, great-eared, they stood at gaze, all three. We 
tried to turn our pack aside, but the greyhounds sighted game, 
and off like arrows shot they went, and the Blacktail turned 
for flight. We did our best to call the hounds away, but who 
can turn a greyhound from a foe that runs ? Away they sped 
and the Blacktail sped away. How the memories of my youth 
came back as I watched them bounding along the level bottom- 
lands, bounding — bounding — oh, it was beautiful, it was 
glorious, but it was sad! For, notwithstanding all their won- 
drous powers, their winged heels, they were losing time. The 
greyhounds, far behind at first, were low skimming like prairie 
hawks, were making three yards to the Blacktail's two, were 
gaining, went faster yet, were winning, would surely win. In 
vain we tried to ride ahead to cut them ofi^, to turn or call 
them back; their speed, their mad impetuosity, grew only 
faster and fiercer. In spite of every efl^ort, we knew that in a 
few minutes we should see three defenceless Blacktail mangled 
by our hounds. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

On and on the chase. The Uttle ones were suffering now, 
were weakening. It was a question of barely a quarter mile. 

Fig. 55 — Young buck. 

Carberry, Manitoba. December, 1886. 
This illustrates the typical style of antler. 

Then we riders saw a thing that touched our hearts — that 
poor devoted mother, in despair, dropped back behind — de- 
liberately it seemed — at least her young should have a chance, 
and my blood rushed hot. My hand sought the gun in reckless 
determination to stop those dogs. Only twenty-five yards ahead 
the mother now, when all at once an inspiration came. The 
unseen prompter whispered wisdom, and the mother turned 

Mule-deer 143 

aside, made for the rugged piling hills so near, she — all three — 
soon reached their base and tapped with their toes, then rose 
in air to land some fifteen feet above, and tapped again — and 
tapped and tapped all three; and so they rose and sailed and 
soared. The greyhounds reached the rise and there were 
lost; their kingdom was the level plain; on the rugged hills they 
were helpless, balked, and left behind. But the mother and 
her two went bounding, soaring like hill-hawks, and so they 
sailed away till hidden in the heights, and safely at peace. 

That day I learned the meaning of the bounding. These 
are the Deer of the broken lands; theirs is the way of the up- 
lands; this pace is their gift, their power and their hold on life. 

The Moose, or Flat-horned Elk. 

Alces americanus Jardine. 

(Gr. alces, an elk; L. americanus, American.) 

Alces americanus Jardine, 1835, Nat. Lib. XXI, p. 125. 
Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, VOrignal. 
Cree, Moose, moos-wa. 
OjiB., Moose. 
Chipewyan, Ten-nee\ 
Yankton Sioux, Tahg-chah. 
Ogallala Sioux, Tah. 

The genus Alces (Jardine, 1835) has all the characteristics 
of the Family (the Cervidce) to which it belongs, but, further, 
has broadly palmated antlers, found only on the male, pen- 
dulous, muscular muzzle, with a small, naked triangular space 
between the nostrils, short neck and tail, small tarsal and no 
metatarsal glands; both sexes carry on the throat a bell or 
dewlap covered with long hair. In size these are the largest of 
living Deer, equalling or exceeding a horse in stature. 

^ , , 0-0 0-0 2-2 . 2-2 

leeth: Inc. ; can. ; prem.^^^-^; mol.^^^-^ =32 

4-4 0-0 ^-^ ^-^ 

COLOUR A fine bull Moose shot near Kippewa, Que., by Mrs. E. 

T. Seton, September 25, 1905, in prime condition, was black 
on fore-legs, breast, shoulders, 'flanks, and hams, shading into 
rusty brown on withers, back, neck, and head; palest on nose 
and lips and shading into white on the belly; the insides of the 
ears also are whitish, the legs from the knee to the ground are a 
pale warm gray or Caribou colour. The appearance of the 


Moose 145 

animal at a distance is that of a black beast, with brown head 
and white stockings. This is typical of all Eastern Moose; 
the coat fades toward springtime. 

The sexes are much alike. 

The calf is dull reddish brown without spots; it turns 
darker at three months. 

The above bull measured as follows: size 

Length, 9 feet 6^ inches (2,896 mm.); snout to occiput, 
2 feet 5 inches (737 mm.); tail, 2^ inches (63 mm.); hind-foot, 
2 feet 7I inches (794 mm.); height at shoulders, 6 feet (1,830 
mm.); length of ear, 10 inches (254 mm.); spread of antlers, 
57I inches (1,457 ^^•)' 

The brow-tines were palmated continuously with the main 
web. These horns are figured on page 160. The individual 
was past his prime. He had several battle scars on his shoulders, 
and his right ear was badly torn by some recent encounter. 

An ordinary bull Moose stands 6 feet high at the withers, height 

C. H. Stonebridge, of New York, tells me that while 
hunting at Chesuncook Lake, Maine, in October, 1897, he 
killed a bull Moose that was 6 feet 8 inches at the withers after 

W. J. Hayes, of New York, records^ that a young Moose 
shot in Nova Scotia stood 6 feet 9 inches at the shoulders, 
although on examination of the teeth, horns, etc., it proved to 
be only three years old. 

William L. Roberts, of Springfield, Mass., is stated^ to 
have killed a Nova Scotia Moose that measured 6 feet 10 inches 
at the withers. 

One still larger, taken in New Brunswick by Carl Rungius, 
the animal painter, measured 7 feet at the withers as it lay on 
the ground.^ 

But the record-bearer in point of stature was killed at 
Mattawa, Que., in October, 1895, by Dr. Hamilton Vreeland 
and his brother. It stood 7 feet 4 inches at the withers.'' 

' Am. Nat., June, 1871, p. 251. 

' Forest and Stream, November 25, 1899, p. 426. 

^ Homaday, Am. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 140. 

* Recreation Magazine, February, 1896, p. 65. 

146 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Thus far I have deah only with the Canadian Moose. 
The Alaskan Moose, of course, overtops it. The largest that 
I have found recorded by any competent authority was killed 
and measured^ by Dall de Weese on the Yukon in September, 
1897, and was 7 feet 8 inches at the withers. 

WEIGHT Not many authentic weights of Moose have been recorded, 

because of the difficulties of getting the scales and the Moose 
together. For long we had nothing but the hunters' guesses, 
which, of course, are of the same order as fishermen's. Now, 
however, we have some trustworthy evidence. 

The only Moose I ever killed gave 500 pounds (Fairbanks 
scales) of dressed meat, which, according to butchers* reckon- 
ing, would be a live weight of 900 pounds; as he lay he meas- 
ured 6 feet 2 inches at the withers, which means about 6 feet 
alive. He was of medium size. 

S. L. Crosby, of Bangor, Maine, an undoubted authority, 
says:^ "I have weighed several Moose; the heaviest was 
1,009 pounds, without blood and entrails, which would surely 
have weighed 250 to 300 pounds." By actual weight I found 
that a 562-pound bull Wapiti lost 120 pounds when his blood 
and entrails were removed, so that Crosby's estimate appears 
fair, and his big Moose surely weighed nearly 1,300 pounds. 

A large Moose killed near Penadomcook, Maine, by 
W. I. Miller, September, 1892, dressed 1,123 pounds,^ equal 
to a live weight of over 1,400 pounds. 

Three forms of Moose are recognized: 

americanus Jard'ine. The Canadian or typical Moose. 
gigas Miller. The great Alaskan Moose, which 

differs from americanus chiefly in being much 

alces Linnaeus. The Old World Moose or Elk, the 
smallest and grayest. 

' Ihid., February, 1898, p. 151. " Ihid., January, 1896, p. 89. 

^ Recreation Magazine, March, 1895, P- 249. 

Moose 147 

The intrepid French voyageurs of the sixteenth century his- 
were the original explorers of northern North America and 
the first civilized men to see the Canadian Moose. 

When they met with the Wapiti, the Virginian Deer, the 
Bear, and the Wolf, they, not being trained taxonomists, had 
no difficulty in satisfying themselves that these were identical 
with the animals they had known in la belle France, and named 
or misnamed them accordingly. The Wapiti became the 
"Cerf du Canada"; the Virginian Deer the *'Dain" or Fallow 
Deer; the Bear and Wolf were yet more easily catalogued. 
But when these enterprising travellers found themselves con- 
fronted with the Moose, they were silent — nonplussed. Noth- 
ing like this had ever been seen "at home." He was 
"une type, un original,"^ hence the French name Vorignal, 
I'orignat, or Vorignac. 

The educated Frenchmen who had a literary knowledge 
of the European Elk made a feeble attempt to call this animal 
by its European name. Lescarbot writing, about 1609, of 
"The Chase" in New France, says:^ "But first let us speak 
of the Elian, which they [the Indians] call Aptaptou and our 
Basques, Orignacs. * * * It is the most abundant game 
which the savages have after the Fish." Sagard Theodat 
calls them "Eslans ov Orignats."^^ 

Charlevoix, in 1744, uses '^ elan" once by way of explana- 
tion and "orignal" elsewhere throughout. Thus the lower- 
class nomenclature won, and it holds the ground to-day.^^ 

The English had similar troubles, with even less light, 
for they were farmers, and in information and travel they were 
far behind the polished French chevaliers who exploited New 
France. They got out of their difficulty by adopting the Indian 
word "Moose," which, as pronounced in an Indian nose, is 
mong-soa or mongswa, said to mean "twig-eater." What a 
happy thing for our lexicographers had the early Scandinavian 

^ Madison Grant suggests that it is rather an adapted Basque word of quite differ- 
ent signification. 

* Histoire de la Nouvelle France, Marc Lescarbot, 1618, p. 893. 
" G. Sagard Theodat, Hist, du Canada, 1636, p. 308. 
" F. F. X. de Charlevoix, Hist, descr. gen. Nouv. France, 1744. 

148 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

i#^|.?/j#^^*'5#=? 5 4 = 

explorers completed their conquest and allowed the noble 
creature its proper birthright in the name of Elk! But Moose 
it is, and not so bad, since it makes no confusion. Would 

that the Wapiti, Pronghorned Ante- 
lope, White Goat-antelope, and Bison 
were as happily placed! 

Lescarbot's account, cited above, 
is the earliest mention I can find of the 
Moose. Cartier did not see the species 
in his famous journey to Hochelaga 
[Montreal] in 1535; at least he does not 
speak of it, which is pretty good proof, 
since he saw and wrote of many beasts. 

Also the earliest drawing of Moose 
that I can find is on Lescarbot's map 
(1609) of Port Royal, Nova Scotia. 
The Moose (or Vorignal, as he calls 
it) was the characteristic animal of 
that region and therefore used as decoration of the map 

Fig. 56 — Earliest known drawing of a 
Moose; on Lescarbot's map (1609) 
of Port Royal, Nova Scotia. 

at R 

t VI ere 

de r 



In making the map of range (p. 151) I have tried to be con- 
servative.^^ A number of outlying records are shown by crosses. 

These are as follows: 

In Prince Edward Island the Moose are now extinct, but 
"there are occasionally found palmated horns." 
(C. Birch Bagster, Pr. Ed. Id., 1861, p. 85.) 

Massachusetts. "The Moose formerly undoubtedly ex- 
isted in Massachusetts." (J. A. Allen, Cat. Mam. 
Mass. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 1869, pp. 143-257.) 

" Loc. cit., p. 440. 

" It is founded on the account of many travellers and the records of the Biological 
Survey of the Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. 

Moose 149 

Catskills, N. Y. Moose "ranged throughout nearly the 
whole of New England, and in New York as far 
south as the Catskills. (Madison Grant, "The Van- 
ishing Moose," Century Magazine, January, 1894, 

P- 347-) 
Colorado. "Remains of a Moose (J Ice americana) said 

to have been killed in South Park, Col,, in 1871, 

were observed by the Expedition. The statement is 

open to doubt; if correct it fixes the southernmost 

limit of the species." (H. C. Yarrow, Zool. West of 

100 Mer., 1875, p. 71.) 

? Colorado. "In the summer of 1887 I saw a small pair 
of well-bleached Moose antlers, on the dirt roof of a log 
cabin near the foot of Sweet Water Lake, about 15 
miles north of Dotsero, which is a station on the Denver 
and Rio Grande Railway, about 12 miles east of 
Glenwood Springs, Col. The cabin was at least five 
or six years old, perhaps twice as old. It was at that 
time owned by a man named Peal, who told me that 
the Moose was the only one that had ever been known 
to be in that country, and was killed while with a 
band of Elk or a bunch of stock, I have forgotten 
which." (H.W. Skinner, of Chicago, in letter, March 
4, 1901.) 

? Oregon. "About eight years ago, while I and two others 
were hunting Deer on the head of the South Fork of 
Silver Creek, in Marion County, Ore., we found a 
pair of Moose horns in a fair state of preservation." 
(Abe Kromling, of Melville, Clatsop County, Ore., 
in letter, August 8, 1899.) 

Records supported only by the finding of recent antlers 
are to be received with caution; and especially so when the 
antlers are imperfect. In several cases the supposed frag- 
ment of Moose antler has turned out to be merely an ab- 
normal palmation from the common deer. 

150 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

There is one peculiarity of the Moose range that is almost 
unique, at least among our Deer. Many observers state that 
Moose are now found in such and such a large region where 
formerly they were unknown. It has always seemed to me 
more likely that in these cases Moose are now common where 
formerly rare. If Moose can live there to-day, why not in 
primitive times ? 

But the statements of many reliable travellers, among 
them Dr. Robert Bell, of the Canadian Geological Survey, are 
not to be ignored. Doubtless there is yet a curious chapter to 
be written on the distribution of the species. Dr. Bell says:'^ 
"The Moose or American Elk {J Ices americanus) migrates 
slowly from one large area to another through periods extend- 
ing over many years. For example, in the Gaspe Peninsula 
the last interval between its leaving and again returning to the 
same district was upward of half a century, and in the region 
between the Upper Great Lakes and James Bay the period 
between his last withdrawal and reappearance has been still 

The map shows, therefore, where the Moose was found at 
any time. The parts where it is known to have been ex- 
terminated by man are remarkably small, comprising, chiefly. 
Cape Breton and a strip in the United States along the southern 
border of the dotted area. The range of the Moose was act- 
ually more limited twenty years ago than it is to-day, for good 
game laws have resulted in a general increase of its numbers 
over much territory where once it was near extermination. 

There is one oft-quoted error that requires correction. 
Richardson, Caton, and many others, who should have 
known better, say that formerly the Moose ranged south to the 
Ohio. All these writers refer to DuPratz as authority, but not 
one of them seems to have looked up DuPratz. Here is his 
whole statement :^^ "This is what we call the Wabache, and 
v^h2it in Canada ?ind New England xhty C2i\\xhtO\\\o. * * * 

" Mammoth and Mastodon Remains, Hudson's Bay, Bull. Geol. Soc. Am., June 
1898, p. 376. 

'"DuPratz, The Hist. Louis. Vol. I, pp. 300-1. 

MAP 7— PRIMITIVE RANGE OF THE MOOSE (but little changed to-day). 

Alces americanus Jardine. 

... c ''^■'^ ?,"P '^ ^,°""/^'<J ?" t^e reports of numerous travellers and on many personal observations, with assistance in Alaska from the BioloK- 
ical burvey Map pul>lishe(l l.y the Uniti.i States Department of Agriculture in the Yearbook, 1007. 
Ihe extra-limital records are detailed on pp. 148-9. 


152 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

To the north of this river Hes Canada. * * * On the north 
of the Wabache we first began to see the Originaux." That 
is in Canada. He clearly distinguishes Canada from the land 
of Illinois, which name he applies to the country north of the 
Wabash on his map. Furthermore, he includes the whole of 
the Ohio valley as part of Louisiana, and in his list {loc. cit.) of 
"Quadrupeds" of Louisiana does not mention the Orignal, 
though he gives Buffalo, Stag [Wapiti], and Deer. 

In a word, then, I find not the slightest reason here (or 
elsewhere) for believing that the Moose ever was found south 
of the Ohio, or indeed anywhere on the south shore of Lakes 
Erie and Ontario. 

The range of this noble animal is likely to be artificially 
extended within the next few years. Thus, attempts are being 
made to introduce it into Newfoundland. The success of this 
is doubtful, but there is no reason why the Moose should not 
be restored to its ancient realm in the Adirondacks where once 
it was very numerous, and where it was exterminated only as 
late as 1861. The undertaking is in charge of a society, of 
which Harry V. Radford, the enterprising secretary, has sent 
me (1906) the following report: 

*'The first purchases of Moose were made by the State in 
1902, and a few more were bought and liberated in 1903. In all 
only 12 had been liberated — at least half of which were bulls. 

"Up to the present we have not been able to make such 
headway with the Moose for want of funds. Unfortunately, 
at the very outset of the enterprise it received a serious set- 
back in the killing — accidental or malicious — of four or five 
of the Moose, most of which were cows. However, the re- 
mainder have held their own during the past few years, and 
they are occasionally seen in some part of the woods. The 
advocates of restoration claim — with reason and justice, we 
believe — that the Moose project has not yet been given a fair 
test, and that if we can only get enough released so as to make 

Moose 153 

a fair start there is no reason why we may not hope for as much 
success as has been had with the Wapiti." 

No wild animal roams at random. All have a certain home 
range that they conside.r home. Some have two of these, one ^^^^^^ 
for summer, the other for winter, and these are called migratory 
animals. The Moose has but one home, and that it keeps to 
the year round. As a general rule the extent of an animal's 
range corresponds somewhat with its size. A Deer range is 
larger than that of a Rabbit because its wants are greater. 
Flesh-eaters are of course on a different basis. The Moose 
appears to be the widest ranger of the non-migratory ruminants. 

The Carberry Swamp was the home of a small band of 
Moose that never left its limits at any time, so far as I could 
learn, though it was but three miles wide by ten long. The 
Moose that inhabit the east slopes of the Teton Mountains in 
Jackson's Hole, Wyoming, are known to continue all year in a 
narrow belt about three miles by ten on the east of Jackson's 
Lake. In the Bitterroot Mountains a few individuals live in the 
narrow valleys on the west slope of the mountain, and though 
these valleys are rarely over half a mile wide, the Moose seem 
content to dwell permanently in a part of them that is not more 
than two or three miles long. 

While the Wolf and Fox may greatly extend their home 
range in winter time, the Moose and some others seem to restrict 
themselves to a smaller locality then than in summer, no 
doubt on account of the difficulty of travelling in the snow. 

In the winter, according to all testimony, the Moose is 
satisfied with so small a range that it is called the winter yard. 
This may be less even than 50 acres. Indeed, George H. Mea- 
sham writes me from Manitoba that he has known a family of 
4 Moose to pass all winter within a radius of 300 feet. Having 
found a suitable place to yard, a family will stay there until the 
snow is gone, the food fails, or they are driven out by hunters. 
I should think that ordinarily a Moose, especially a cow, passes 
its life within 10 miles of the spot where it was born. 

Although the species has no orderly migration, so far as 

154 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

known, there is evidence of a migratory instinct, in the erratic 
wanderings of individuals, especially of the young bulls in their 
second and third years. 

NUMBERS At the Moose's ordinary rate of increase, how long should 
it be in doubling its numbers? Supposing, for example, lOO 
Moose, equally divided in sex, to be shut up within an ample 
forest. Although 2 calves is the rule, they would be far 
from doubled at the end of the first year; for, of the 50 cows, 
some would go barren that year, some would lose their calves, 
some would have but i, and many accidents would make a 
continual drain. Experience shows that under the most favour- 
able circumstances we could not reckon on an annual increase 
of more than one-fifth of the herd. This would continue until 
the whole range was fully populated; that is, until checked by 
the food limits, the number would double in about five years. 
Evidently then an annual drain of one-quarter would lessen the 
number of Moose, but if the drain were one-fifth they might 
hold their own; if it were but one-sixth they might increase. 

With these facts in view, let us take the report of G. H. 
Measham, an old resident of Manitoba. Writing from Shoal 
Lake, north-west of Winnipeg, in 1900, he says: 

**The Moose is, however, far from being scarce or in 
much danger of becoming extinct. I can safely state that 
within 50 miles of Winnipeg there are hundreds of Moose, and 
that within 100 miles there are thousands of them. 

**For example, in the districts of St. Laurent and Oak 
Point there must be some 60 or 70 hunters. Cutting them 
down to 2 Moose per annum, that would mean 130 Moose 
killed. Now it would be more nearly true to state the year's 
kill at 500 head of Deer, mostly Moose, and all killed in the 
municipality of Posen, and the greater part in townships 21 and 
22, ranges 5 and 6, west of ist Meridian. This slaughter 
has gone on for years, yet the Moose are still there, and lots of 
them. The fact is, that though there are districts (like Fisher 
River, Posen, Lake St. Martin, and so on) that are much 
hunted, yet there are vast districts that are practically un- 




touched. The Indian hunter does not, nowadays, travel very 
far from his reserve, and I have reason to believe that the 
Moose are not only holding their own, but increasing." 

The area in question is about 500 square miles. Accord- 
ing to these figures there is a Moose population of a round 
1,000, or 2 to the square mile. This is what most hunters 
consider fairly good Moose country, although a rate 10 times 
as high is found in some localities. 

The entire range of the Moose is about 3,500,000 square 
miles, but it is not all equally good; at a very rough estimate, 
we may put the number on the whole range at a round million 
of Moose. 

The record-bearer for spread among antlers of the Cana- ant. 
dian Moose is the 68^-inch pair taken by Dr. W. L. Munro, of 
Providence, R. I., on the Nepisiguit, N. B., October 12, 1907.* 

The previous record pair were those taken by F. H. Cook, of 
Leominster, Mass., in 
New Brunswick, Oc- 
tober, 1898. These, 
as measured by S. L. 
Crosby, of Bangor, at 
the time of capture, 
were 67 inches from 

tip to tip. During the TIH'T 

intervening eightyears ** 

they have shrunk a 

little, by inevitable pj^ ^.j—The eSJ^-inch New Brunswick Moose, taken by Dr. W. L. 

dj , 1 Munro, of Providence, R. I., October 12, 1907. 

rying, and to-day are 

only 65I inches across. They now hang in the Leominster 

Club, at Leominster, Mass., where I examined them (Fig. 64). 

Next comes a 66-inch pair," also from New Brunswick, 

now in the collection of Stephen Decatur, of Portsmouth, 

N. H., and after them a 65-inch pair from Manitoba, belonging 

to Otho Shaw.'^ 

^"I have since learned of the 70-inch head secured by Lewis M. Gibb, of New 
York, in Caughnawana Club Preserve, Pontiac Co., Que., October 10, 1906. E. T. S. 
" R. Ward's Records of Big Game, 1899, p. 11. '' Ibid., p. 10. 

Fig. 58 — Freak head from Manitoba, 18 
In collection of George Grieve, Winnipeg. 
The spike below is 24 inches long. Right horn, 27 inches long; 
girth, 9; points, S. Left horn, 33^2 inches long; girth, 9; 
points, 10. 

Fig. 5g — Abnormal antlers of three-year-old Moose shot 

at Lake Winnipeg, 1904. 

Now in the possession of E. W. Darbey, of Winnipeg. 

Spread, 31 inches ; girth of right beam, 4 inches ; of left, 4/^ inches. 

Fig. 61 — From the Upper Ottawa, 1897. 
The horns were porous and spongy ; probably the animal had been 


Specimen now in collection of lames H. Fleming, Toronto, Ontario. 

(Greatest spread, 46 inches.) 

Fig. 62 — From Manitoba. 
In collection of Alex. Calder, of Winnipeg. (47 inches spread.) 

Flo. 60 — In Museum Can. Geol. Survey, Ottawa. 
His right antler is 38 inches long. 

FlG. 63 — From Manitoba, Dec, 1905. 
In collection of E. W. Darbey. 


Fig. 64 — Sixty-seven-inch Moose head from New Brunswick. 

Shot by F. H. Cook, of Leominster. Mass.. Uctober. 1898. 

Drawn from a photograph supplied by W. S. Chase, lisq. 

Fig. 65 — Sixty-four-inch Moose head from St. Louis County, Minn 
Killed by H. C. Percival, of Mine Centre, Ont. 
Drawn from Recreation photograph. May, 1899. 

Fig. 66 — Winnipeg Moose. 

Ideal 56.inch head ; 34 points even. 

Killed by H. C. Pierce, of St. Louis, November, i8go. 

Drawn from photograph in Forest and Stream. 

158 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The Bierstadt head killed in New Brunswick, in 1880, is 
a marvel of palmation and size. Its spread is 64I inches." 

Minnesota follows closely with a 64-inch head killed by 
H. C. Percival (of Mine Centre, Ont.), in St. Louis County, 
Minn.'*' These are singularly symmetrical, even to the pendant 
on the under side of each (Fig. 65). 

A pair taken 90 miles north-east of Winnipeg by H. C. 
Pierce, of St. Louis, Mo.,^^ though only 56-inch spread, repre- 
sent, to my mind, the most beautiful type of Moose antler. 
They have broad curving shovels behind, and a bold sweep of 
many-serried and even points in the brow clusters; it is a 
question whether, with due allowance for points of merit, 
they do not rank first among those of Canadian Moose. These 
four I have not personally examined (Fig. 66). 

The record antlers of Alaska Moose, now in the Field 
Columbian Museum, measure 77I inches across the widest 
part, and with the dry skull weighed 91 pounds. Prof. D. G. 
Elliott informed me that, when first shot, the hunter measured 
them at 84 inches across (Fig. 71). 

C. Phillipps-Wolley writes me that there is in the Union 
Club, Victoria, B. C, a 76-inch head killed near Cook's Inlet, 
by A. S. Reed. 

In view of the fact that weight, ruggedness, symmetry, and 
number of points are to be considered, the following are 
formidable competitors for the first place: a 74^-inch head in 
the Chicago Academy of Sciences;" the 73|-inch head belong- 
ing to the Duke of Westminster ;^3 ^j^e 72-inch head in the 
Union Club, Victoria, B. C. {Phillipps-Wolley)', the 7o|-inch 
head in the collection of W. W. Hart, of New York;-" and the 
69-inch head killed by Dall de Weese, September, 1897.^^ 

Such remarkable growths are, of course, liable to great varia- 

" Moose, by Madison Grant, 7th An. Rep. N. Y. S., F. F. G. Com., 1903, p. 232. 

^° Recreation Magazine, May, 1899, p. 357. 

^' Forest and Stream, November 30, 1895, p. 465. 

^^ Forest and Stream, December 24, 1898, p. 508. 

*^ Lydecker, Deer of All Lands, 1898, p. 53. 

" Forest and Stream, January 23, 1897, p. 65, also January 30, p. 85. 

" Recreation Magazine, February, 1898, p. 151. 



tion. Freak horns are common among Moose, and some of the 
most curious are illustrated on page 156, all on the same scale. 

The antlers' size and shape have even less relation to the 
age of the animal than with the Wapiti. After the third year 
no one can tell the age from the antlers. 

The young bull Moose grows his first pair — two snags 
a few inches long — in his sec- 
ond summer, shedding them 
the following spring. Next 
year he grows his prongs, 
shedding them late the fol- 
lowing winter or in spring. 
The third pair have a begin- 
ning of palmation. Thence- 
forth each pair is more pal- 
mated and is dropped earlier 
— usually in January or 
February; but bulls of excep- 
tional vigour drop their ant- 
lers as early as December. 
As with most male Deer, the 
full development of the horns 
is attained about the seventh 
or eighth year; then comes a 
period of little change, fol- 
lowed after three or four 
years by a decline. 

After the Moose has 
grown old or passed his vig- 
our "the palmation becomes 
wider, but the points fewer in number and shorter, until, in a 
very old specimen, the upper part of the antler is merely scal- 
loped along the edge and the web is of great breadth. In the 
older and finer specimens the brow antlers are more complex 
and show three points instead of two." {Madison Grant. Y^ 

^* Moose, N. Y., F. F. & G. Com., 7th Ann. Rep., 1903, pp. 231-2. 

Fig. 67 — Moose antlers, showing successive growths. 

I. Appearance on the calf under a year old. 2. At .eighteen 

months. 3. At two and one-half years. 4. At three and 

one-half years. 
After this the br<iw points increase to two or three in number on 

each side ; the webs or palms grow wider and the points 

more numerous for five or six years. 
These drawings were made from specimens whose age was not 

positively ascertained, and are olTercd with much hesitancy. 

Fig. 68 — Spikes of a Maine Moose. 

Shed March i, 1899, when the Moose was 22 months old. a. Right antler 15 
inches long, 6 inches in girth above burr. b. Left antler 13^ inches long, 
4 inches in girth above burr. In base of each is a cup 2 inches wide and one 
inch deep. 

Fig. 6g — Ottawa Moose head. 

Showing increased webbing and reduced size of tines in a verj' large Moose past 

his prime. 

Collection ot Mrs. Grace G. Seton. (57% inches spread; 26 points.) 

Fig. 70 — Moose from Manitoba. Prime of life. 

Showing three brow tines and broad palmations. (49'i-inch spread.) 

At a later period the brow tines may increase in number, but they turn 

smaller, shorter, and the whole antler less massive. 


Fig. 71— Field Museum Moose head from Alaska 

rherecord.benrer: 78K. inches across (originally said to have been 84 inches) ■ 
weighs 9314 pouncLs. ^ "icnesj , 

From a photograph. 

Fit!. 72— Alaskan, 741^ inches (formerly 76 inches) 

Taken on Kenai I'eninsula by A. S. Reed. Now in Nat. Coll. Heads and Horns. N. Y. 

Reckoned by points of merit may claim first place. 

Fig. 73— a 731^-inch Moose head from Alaska. 

In the collection of W. F. Sheard, Tacoma, Washington. 

From a photograph. 


162 Life-histories of Northern Animals 


Fig. 74 — Locked Moose antlers found in Algonkin Park, Ontario. 
From a photograph by Thomas W. Gibson, Toronto. 

The locked horns, so common among Wapiti, Caribou, 
Whitetail, and Blacktail Deer, are also found among Moose. 

One may wonder 
how these big, flat 
shovels can be- 
come entangled, 
and yet they do. 
There are several 
cases on record, 
the most wonder- 
ful being the ant- 
lers of a pair of 
giants fromAlaska. 
These I saw in 
Sheard's establish- 
ment in Tacoma. The man who found them brought them 
out at great cost. He thought he had a wonderful prize, yet 
Sheard remarked: "I will give half as much more to any 
one who will unlock these antlers 
without using a saw. As they 
stand they are an unwieldy curi- 
osity which no man wishes to 
buy, but separated each will make 
a fine trophy." 

The second marked peculi- 
arity in the bull Moose is the bell 
on his throat. I have examined 
many of these in the newly killed 
specimens and in the living ani- 
mal, and could find nothing in 
them but a long dewlap of skin 
with appropriate blood-vessels. 
Sometimes it is round; some- 
times flat, lying the long way; 
sometimes flat the cross way of ^lo. 75-unusu^ai wi.^^.^i^^^^^^^^^ 

the animal's throat; sometimes 




simple; sometimes forked; sometimes hanging from the jaw, 

and sometimes from a long blade-like dewlap, but always with- 
out discernible scent-glands. I have 

squeezed and worked them with my 

hands on the living Moose and have 

been unable to discover any smell 

or signs of exudation, or indeed any 

specialization that would afford a hint 

of their purpose. No one yet has given |^^ 

any satisfactory explanation of this 

curious dangler. It is found on all 

Moose with little regard to age or sex, 

though usually largest in the young 

bull, the longest bell I ever heard of, 

however, was found on a cow Moose. 

Ordinarily it is 8 or lo inches long; 14 

inches would be exceptional for even 

a bull, but this one was j8 inches long^ 

exclusive of hair (Fig. 76). The Moose 

that wore it was shot by an Indian in 

Eastern Manitoba. He brought the 

head to Darbey's taxidermist shop 
in Winnipeg. E. W. Darbey and 
J. P. Turner, of Winnipeg, ex- 
amined it critically in the flesh, and 
vouch for the genuineness of this 
extraordinary bell. Unfortunately, 
the owner insisted on having it 
mounted on a bull Moose head. 

Fred. Talcott, who made ex- 
tended observations on a family 
of Moose in Roger Williams Park, 
Providence, R. I., writes:" 

"As the antlers increased the bell 

also increased until 13 or 14 inches long; and after the antlers 

were dropped, December ist, the bell decreased in length." 

" Forest and Stream, March 25, 1899, p. 224. 

Fig. 76 — Cow Moose bell, 38 inches long. 

From photograph by E. W. Darbey. 
Specimen taken in Manitoba, 1903. 

Fig. 77- 

-Diagram of Moose bell, from old bull 
in about tenth year. 

Dewlap 12 inches long, about half an inch thick, and 

354 inches deep. 

Bell of same thickness and character but 8 inches 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Since, then, the "bell" is a variable feature more or less 
present in the young of both sexes, and tending to disappear 
with age; it may be a character that is being lost, because no 
longer answering any useful purpose. 

It is interesting to note that several animals have produced 
** Moose bells" on their throats as freaks. I have seen such 
growths in common cattle, Belgian hares, Merino rams, and 
once in a Cottontail (Fig. 78). They are usually associated 
with other excessive developments of the skin and its products. 

SIGN How are we to know that there are Moose in a swamp 

since they never give us a chance to see them .? 

The sure, certain, lasting sign is the "fumet," or dung- 
balls. These resemble in character 
those of other large Deer, but their 
size is distinctive. 

Another important sign is the 
track. "Like the track of a cow, but 
sharper," is the earliest description I 
ever heard of it. This sign is soon 
changed by weather and tells the ob- 
server what time has elapsed since 
the Moose was here. 

While feeding in winter the Moose 
will chisel the bark off saplings with 
its front teeth, as indeed do most Deer, 
but the size of the mark and the height 
from the ground will usually tell if such 
a mark was made by a Moose. It is 
often remarked that only one side of 
the bark is thus taken, and therefore the tree survives. 

The nipping of twigs also at a great height is an im- 
portant Moose sign. 

Other telltale marks are the scrapings of the trees with the 
antlers and the deliberate crossing of bogs. In this last respect 
the Moose is second only to the Caribou. An important sign 
in fall is the wallow, fully described later. 

Fig. 78 — Cottontail Rabbit with bell like 
that of a Moose. 

From specimen taken near Toronto, now in col- 
lection of James H. Fleming. 
Bell, 2% inches long. Second figure shows side 
view and sections. 

Moose 165 

The horns of the bull Moose are developed for battle the 
with his own kind. As soon as the rut is over they are of and 
little use, and Nature, true to her principle of economy, "'"^^^"^^ 
proceeds to get rid of them. In the depth of winter the 
useless lumber is dropped. Earlier if the Moose be very 
vigorous; later if he be a weakling. Yet he is not by any 
means disarmed, for his mighty fore feet, armed with a pair 
of stubby bayonets of horn, are ample protection against 
any Wolf or Bear that might dare to assail him or the family 
in his care. 

The "yarding of the Moose" is a familiar phrase that has 
given rise to several misconceptions. Many persons think that 
a Moose yard is a large place, having all the snow in it trampled 
down smooth, and surrounded by a straight wall of untrodden 
snow rising to the level of the deep soft covering of the forest 
beyond. They imagine, farther, that, as soon as a storm 
begins, the Moose gets to work, hoof and horn, to hammer the 
new snow down level and hard within the yard. 

The fact is that, when the snow commences to deepen, a 
Moose family — father, mother, and little ones — seek out some 
place of abundant food, and, by winding daily in this, cover 
the ground with a network of pathways. The longer they stay, 
the more numerous and the wider the pathways become, so 
that, finally, there are but few untrodden spaces of twenty 
yards across. 

The deeper the snow in the woods the harder the Moose 
must work for their food, since the lower bushes and ground 
herbs are not now available, and thus the difference between 
the snow in the yard and that in the woods increases. If the 
food is sufficiently abundant in the yard, and no hunters ap- 
proach, the Moose stay till spring. If the food gives out, they 
must begin a perilous journey through the snow in search of 
another good place. It is only during such a journey that 
they fear the Wolves. They make it in single file, so that 
the young ones in the rear do not have a very hard time, and 
it is usually done with judgment founded on their memory of 
the country. 

166 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

MOOSE- A Moose yard is commonly frequented throughout the 

winter by the moose-birds or Canada-jays (P. canadensis). 
I cannnot guess why, unless the Moose, by tearing down and 
rooting up logs and dead trees, exposes worms, etc., or perhaps 
the parasitic insects in their hair furnish food for the bird. 
There are several other cases of small birds associating with 
large beasts, and in each the bird is believed to serve the beast 
as watchman and get his return in parasitic insects as food. 

SPRING With the melting of the snow the necessity for yarding 

ceases, and the Moose family scatters. For what reason they 
do so is not clear, because the young are not due to be born 
for two or three months yet. Perhaps like men who have 
been cooped up together in tight winter-quarters, or in a sailing 
vessel, they are glad to get away from each other for a change. 
The bulls go to some quiet spot, where their budding antlers 
may have every chance to grow. They may have travelled a 
dozen miles from their own range while seeking a mate in the 
fall, but summer finds each individual back in the very swamp 
and water-front that he has long considered his home. The 
cows go to some familiar, secluded place, where they can nour- 
ish the unborn calf, usually, however, accompanied at a 
respectful distance by their young of the year before. 

It is very necessary in the economy of Nature that families 
should break up. Inbreeding is ruinous, and many animals 
have developed instincts that guard against this. I have made 
many observations to see whether the active party in the break- 
up is the parent or the young. Judging by humanity, it is 
the young. Among human beings the maternal feeling us- 
ually continues longer than the filial. But in most (possibly 
in all) the lower animals it is the other way. The young 
would keep on indefinitely demanding sustenance and com- 
fort from the mother, if allowed. Who has not seen a cow, a 
mare, a sheep, a cat, a dog, or a rabbit, driving away, with 
harsh menace or even violence, the overgrown young one that 
teases persistently for the sustenance of earlier years ? The 
feeling that overpowers the maternal is, I think in most cases. 

Moose 167 

the renewed mating instinct that springs from physical prepar- 
ations for a new family. We can find even this paralleled in 
mankind, by the widow or widower who realizes that an already 
acquired family is an obstacle in the way of a new match. 

The cow Moose may still be accompanied by her calf of young 
the last year, but the instinct to be alone, when her time comes, 
leads the mother to sneak away for the final scene. This takes 
place in some remote swamp thicket during late May. As 
with most of our Deer she produces but i calf the first time, 
but afterward, 2, and in rare cases, 3. Though, as J. G. 
Lockhart says,^® **No one ever saw a cow Moose followed by 
3 sucklings or yearlings." These are dull reddish brown, 
without any of the lighter spots that characterize the rest of the 
Deer family in America. The small Deer hide the fawn for 
weeks; the Elk and Moose, for a few days only. 

The young have all the family instincts for hiding at this 
age. William E. Bemis sends me a curious instance that he 
learned with satisfactory proof. Near his summer camp in Que- 
bec, north of Deux Rivieres, his guide chanced on two Moose 
calves in an open place. The little things ran here and there, 
looking for cover, then sought a shaggy fringe of short brush 
and disappeared over a low bank by a lake. There seemed to 
be no place for them to hide in; yet they had disappeared. A 
thorough search showed them to be in the water, completely 
submerged, except the tips of their noses. The mother was 
circling about in the neighbourhood, too much alarmed to 
come near, but frequently uttering a warning squeal that the 
little ones seemed to understand. 

She never goes far afield while the calves are in hiding; 
and at proper times (probably two or three times a day) she 
comes to suckle them. As soon as they are strong enough they 
follow her about — exactly at what age, I cannot say. 

On June 4, 1892, at Beausejour, in Manitoba, I saw two 
Moose calves that were able to run alone and were probably 
a fortnight old. They stood between 30 and 36 inches at the 

'" Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., Vol. XIII, No. 827, p. 305. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 



shoulder. One which Dr. W. T. Hornaday measured when 
seven weeks old was 37 inches at the shoulder.-" 

The calves continue with the mother throughout the sum- 
mer. I have been unable to determine whether or not several 
mothers join company at this season, as with the Wapiti, ad- 
mitting young males also to their select society. 

The bull Moose has led meanwhile a bachelor life, so far 
as known. The only evidence to the contrary was supplied by 

Tappan Adney. 
In answer to the 
query, Does the 
bull Moose ac- 
company the cow 
while the calf is 
her ? he 
"In my 
I have a 
related by 
an old hunter 
with whom I 
lived on the To- 
bique, in New 
Brunswick, in 
1896. He was telling me of the time when he first heard a 
Moose call to another. Though but a small boy then, he was in 
the woods alone. He was paddling on Sisson Branch of the 
Tobique, and had stopped his canoe by the bank to rest when, 
close at hand, he heard a low mooh, mooh, that he thought 
was a tree rubbing against another. In a moment a calf Moose 
came out of the bushes followed by the cow, and while he 
stood gazing a bull Moose appeared. At first they did not 
notice him, but having only a little shot-gun with birdshot, he 
was working to untie a bag containing bullets. The move- 
ment caught the bull's eye; he came toward the boy with brist- 
ling mane. Before anything happened, the cow and the calf 
walked away, and then the bull turned and followed them." 

'^Am. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 140. 

Fig. 79 — Why Moose horns are so seldom found. 

This massive pair from near Mattawa hung in a tree for only se\'en years. The weather 
and the Porcupines have reduced them to splintered and friable bone that could 
not last more than three or four years and much less if on the ground. Shot at 
Foley's Lake bj' Le Royer in i8g8. (He went with the Ziegler expedition.) All 
rotten and eaten by Porcupine, but not by Mice. Every old vein is now a deep 
crack. Spread on brow, now 42 inches. 

Moose 169 

In mid-winter the bull Moose sheds his huge fan antlers, 
for, notwithstanding the voice of the people (which is said to 
be the voice of God), they are not used for shoveling snow all 
winter. As the hunters say, when the sap begins to flow in the 
trees the sap begins to run in the antlers of the Moose, which 
begin to grow afresh in April. 

As the warm weather comes on the Moose are driven out 
of the thick woods by the heat and flies. They now gather at 
the lakes and beside large rivers, where they can enjoy a cool 
bath every day, get what breeze there is moving, and revel in 
the lily-pads that abound in such places. During the summer 
months the Moose may be considered a semi-aquatic animal. 
Male and female, old and young, thus frequent these summer 
watering-places, but usually the bulls keep by themselves in 
groups of two or even wander alone. Many of the guides say 
that the pair of bull Moose commonly seen together in summer 
are twin brothers. 

In three months the antlers are finished and the velvet 
begins to shed ofi^, showing the white bony structure below. I 
find, among the guides, a widespread notion that the Moose are 
right and left-handed — that a Moose that always lies on his left 
side will show the effects in a slight twist of the left antler and 
so on. By September the antlers are sunburnt to a deep brown, 
except the tips, which are white and polished from rubbing 
them on the brush and trees. 

This brings us to the grand change in the Moose. " In the rut 
fall the bull Moose's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." 
The physiological change, called puberty in man, now sets in 
with the Moose. He is subject, indeed, to an annual puberty. 
At other times he is exempt from the much-mingled pleasures 
of the fatuous epoch, and free to mind his own business. 

Early in September the rut sets in, with an exaggera- 
tion of everything that is male in his mental, moral, and 
physical make-up. He devotes all his energies to the matter in 
hand; he even neglects to eat; his all-dominant object now is 
to find a mate. 

170 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

His summer life may have been spent on less than one 
hundred acres of swamp, but now he sets forth on his travels. 
Every few miles there is a sort of meeting-place of the sexes — 
a stretch of open woods — often a hardwood ridge between 
swamps. To these in turn he goes, nosing the earth and the 
wind for helpful suggestions. Standing with ears acock at 
every sound that might have been made by a Moose, and at 
length believing it to be from one of his own race, he chal- 
lenges it with a deep, long grunt or a short bellow, and ap- 
proaches it rapidly, slashing the brush with his horns to im- 
press the other with the fact that he is a well-armed and fearless 
knight, circling about to try the wind from the stranger, or 
(if there be no wind) repeating his various calls and beatings of 
the brushwood. 

There are two usual answers to all this — the long ringing 
reply of the responsive female or another deep grunt like his 
own, but varied with some guttural sounds that tell of a savage 
rival, who also is searching the woods with hke object. In the 
latter case, there may be much grunting and manoeuvring 
before they actually come together. As they approach they 
often express their defiance by slashing the brush with their 
new-grown spears and, when at last they meet and close with a 
crash, the spread and pointed antlers are at once their bucklers 
and their spears. It is rare to find a Moose horn without the 
dent of battle. I suppose that, without exception, every pair 
of full-grown Moose antlers has been in actual service "at the 
front," for every bull Moose hide has scars. In these combats 
the weaker generally saves himself by flight. It is but seldom 
that one of the knights is killed; yet this happens occasionally; 
and, as already noted, the battle has sometimes had a doubly 
fatal termination through the locking of the horns. 

CALLING The moose-calling hunter is one who, with a birch-bark 

trumpet, imitates the bellow of the cow Moose and tempts the 
bull forth into plain view for an easy shot. 

Though the least sportsmanlike, it is popular because it is 
the most effectual way of getting a bull Moose. Fortunately, 

Moose 171 

It can be practised only for a fortnight or so, at the beginning of 
the season, and in exactly the right weather and surroundings. 
Dead calm is essential. If there be wind from the Moose to you, 
he cannot hear your call ; if it be from you to the Moose, he 
smells you and flies to far regions. In a calm the call can be 
heard for miles — so far, indeed, that even if the Moose came di- 
rectly and quickly he might be an hour or more in getting to you. 
I once called from a hill at sunset and learned later that friends 
four miles away heard me distinctly. Therefore, a Moose, with 
his keen hearing, might have heard it five or six miles off^. 

The experienced moose-caller begins very low, as there is 
always a possibility of a bull lurking in some near thicket; 
moreover, he calls not more than once in ten minutes. Some 
think every twenty minutes often enough; this is probably 
quite fast enough once the response has come. The bull's 
answer is a deep, long grunt, varied by the snapping of branches 
as he plunges forward through the woods, stopping at times 
to thrash some bush in his course. When at length, in the last 
dim afterglow, the much-heralded monster heaves his bulk into 
view, overtopping the shrubbery like an elephant, looming 
huge and black against the last streak of red light, he afi^ords 
one of the most impressive sights in the animal world. No 
matter how much we may be expecting his coming, it is always 
a thrilling surprise. We knew how big he was, yet how star- 
tlingly huge he looks! And those antlers, a heavy burden for 
a man, he yet switches about as easily as an Indian does the 
eagle-feathers in his hair. 

By softly modulated squeals, whines, and other sounds 
suggestive of the female Moose, a skilful caller can decoy the 
great beast within a few yards, and get the chance to see, shoot, 
or immortalize the giant, according to the mood and purpose 
of the party. 

But there are many slips between a response and a fair 
view, even though it be an eager bull. A puff of wind may 
alarm the keen-sensed monster by bearing the human taint, 
he may detect a false note in the voice of the siren, or he may 
hear another and more attractive call, that of a cow. 

172 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The latter is what happened in the case described by 
Edward E. FHnt, whose account of moose-caUing is one of the 
best I ever read: 

"On one occasion [he says],^" when the conditions were 
favourable, I decided on calling one night, though the guide 
protested that at best only an uncertain shot would be obtained. 
We approached close to the stand selected by canoe, well 
supplied with blankets, and were soon comfortably established, 
sheltered by a spruce growing near the centre of a small marshy 
opening in the timber. The first call was made at ten o'clock, 
when the nearly full moon showed above the tree-tops. The 
answer was immediate and unmistakable. The Oh-ah — oh-ah 
— oh-ah of an old bull was as distinct and clear as possible. 
All was quiet for twenty minutes, when his approach began with 
calling at every step. This approach, calling, and stopping to 
listen, occurred many times in the next two hours, combined 
with much thrashing by the antlers, sounding, the guide said, 
like a man falling with a canoe on a rough portage. It was 
now full moonlight, the moon was high and the night unusually 
light; the air still and frosty, the Moose only 200 yards away, 
as revealed by the tracks the following morning. Any moment 
might afford the shot. Then the squalling call of a young cow, 
preceded by the deep notes of the bull, rang out sharp and 
clear. They remained near us perhaps half an hour, 
and when heard a second time were fully a mile distant, and 
an hour had elapsed since the meeting. While they were close 
at hand the bull challenge note brought back a short, hoarse, 
angry response, some thrashing with the antlers, and no more. 
* * * Several times I have heard a cow call, usually at 
sundown. In the bull call — oh-ah — the first sound of the 
vowel o is slightly prolonged, is clearly pronounced, and the 
short second sound of the vowel u is given in the last note of 
the call; accent and inflection can hardly be described. The 
cow call varies, usually consisting of three notes, the second 
one greatly prolonged and possessing the greatest volume of 
sound. Moo-waugh-yuh expresses the sound to me, and 

^° Forest and Stream, June i, 1895, p. 442. 

Moose 173 

one of my guides always contended that the cow said plainly, 
'Who are you?' I doubt if the first and last syllables can 
be heard at any great distance, and thus the call often seems 
to consist of one syllable." 

Fred. Talcott, writing of the Moose in Roger Williams 
Park, tells how he imitated the Moose defiance on a call-horn 
not far from the park. 

"At the first sound of the horn the bull sprang to his feet, 
giving his answer and darting toward me, and the cow 
answered with the long call. I thought also the calf answered, 
but of this, in the excitement and noise, I could not be sure. 
At the second sound of the note the bull answered again, and 
without an instant's hesitation charged against the fence in the 
greatest fury. As he came on his head was lowered, bringing 
his antlers about on a line with his shoulders. 

**At other times, both day and evening, I tried to deceive 
him, but without success. The cow would repeatedly answer, 
always with a short call, quite diff^erent from the long call 
imitated to call the Moose of the wild woods. A number of 
difi^erent notes this cow used, usually in a tone that could be 
heard only a short distance."" 

As this was after the rutting season, it is of unusual interest, 
and the patriarch is to be congratulated on the loyal sympathy 
of his family. 

Flint states also that he found the Moose calling and 
coming from the middle of September to the end of October — 
six weeks, that is, much longer than the rut. To this 1 may 
add that in Manitoba, in 1884, I heard a Moose call as late as 
December 6. 

Madison Grant says that "in Nova Scotia it seems to be a 
well-authenticated fact that Bear have been shot by moose- 
callers, the Bear, apparently, sneaking up to seize the supposed 

Accounts of moose-calling are very various and indeed con- 
flicting. One man says, "You must imitate the call of the bull 

" Forest and Stream, March 25, 1899, p. 224. 

^* Moose, 7th Ann. Rep. N. Y. S., F. F. G. Com., 1903, p. 230. 

174 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to arouse the jealous wrath of the other bull"; another, ** You 
must imitate the call of the cow to tempt the errant bull for- 
ward"; another, *' It must be done with marvellous truthfulness 
or the bull detects the fraud"; others maintain that any kind 
of a noise will fetch the bull, so insane is he with wrath and 
desire ; many say that moose-calling is confined to Maine and the 
East, because elsewhere the Moose do not call; still others de- 
clare that, from Canso to Yukon, the Moose call and are called. 

There is little doubt that all these views are founded on 
actual observation. At the beginning of the calHng season the 
bulls, full of amorous rage, will go anywhere at the slightest 
suggestion of a cow-call. When, at length, the cows respond 
and mating is about accomplished, they are ready to assail 
any bull that suggests a disturbance of their joy. When 
finally all are mated they no longer heed the call of another 
cow, and their varied later behaviour, sometimes coming, some- 
times indifferent, means simply that the caller has chanced on 
an unmated bull, or else in a region where all are happy with 
their mates. After this merry moon is over it is considered 
useless to call for Moose. 

Apart from the various uncatalogued and uncomprehended 
roars, bellows, grunts, and whines of the mating season, the 
Moose has many other vocal expressions that serve to tell the 
neighbours how he feels, or what he is thinking about. A 
number of young Moose that I have been among and handled 
uttered a soft whinnying sound when begging for bread. They 
proved their training by nosing in the neighbourhood of my 
pocket as they squealed. Again, the cow and the calf call to 
each other in a variety of soft whines. 

MATING yhg Moose has long been pointed out as the only Deer that 

is strictly monogamous. The evidence for this is as follows: 
There is no record of a bull Moose with a herd of cow Moose 
in the mating season. No man ever saw two adult Moose dwell- 
ing together in the mating season unless they were male and 
female. A Moose that is mated will not reply to a calling cow, 
call she never so tenderly. O exemplary Moose! 

Moose 175 

All observers agree that the Scandinavian Moose is 
monogamous, which is strong side-evidence, since the species is 
so closely related to our own. Finally, most of the hunters I 
have consulted, as well as Judge Caton, the leading authority 
on American Deer, say, unhesitatingly, that the American 
Moose is a strictly monogamous animal. 

W. G. Tweddell, of Manitoba, an experienced Moose 
hunter, believes that the same pair will seek each other out on 
successive seasons, although separated for half the year. 

On the other hand, most of the hunters in Manitoba and 
on the Ottawa maintain that the bull roves from one cow's 
range to another and will mate with many in the season, though 
he is rarely seen with more than one cow at a time. In the 
Kippewa country I was assured by several hunters that it is 
quite a common thing for the cow Moose to answer the cow-call 
while she is with her mate, and to come leading him as though 
she desired to share her position with another. In the few 
cases of calling that I have seen, however, it was a single rov- 
ing bull that came in answer to the invitation. 

The fact of the matter is that there are four degrees of 
monogamy among the animals: 

I St. That in which a male and a female remain together 
for perhaps a week, after which the female no longer desires 
a mate, and the male seeks a second. That is, one mate at a 
time, but perhaps five or six in the season. 

2d. That of certain Weasels, wherein the pair continue 
together during the mating season of a week or more, then sep- 
arate completely. 

3d. That of hawks, in which the pair continue together 
with little interruption until the young are able to care for 
themselves (say for four or five months), the father faithfully 
helping in caring for the young. 

4th. That of eagles, which pair and live together con- 
tinually till one is removed by death. 

The first is the way of the Moose — one mate at a time, 
but maybe five or six in the season. 

Whether the bond lasts more than one season is another 

176 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

question, and one of great interest, but a point which I cannot 
decide, for lack of evidence. The fact that the male does not 
accompany the female while the calf is very young, rather goes 
to prove that their marriage, like their puberty, lasts but a 
brief and burning season, after which all is forgotten and for- 
given, as the case may be, and every one is ready to begin over 
again with a clean slate on the next autumn. 

THE The young bull Moose is tolerated by the step-father while 

YOUNG . . . . . 

BULL he is yet a calf; that is, he is allowed to be in the neighbourhood 
at a respectful distance. But in his second year he begins to 
have feelings of his own, and will fly from his new relative by 
marriage if he knows what is good for his young skin. At this 
time he is a "spike-buck," that is, his antlers (his second pair) 
are forked into a couple of spikes. After his mother's recur- 
rent honeymoon he may drift back to the family group and 
thus come in a sense under the protection of his step-father till 
the end of the winter. Spring moving scatters the family as 
before, and September sees him fully equipped with flat horns, 
lusty body, and ambitions — everything, indeed, needful to 
replenish his corner of the earth except a mate, and personal 
prowess to secure one. 

He may try a passage of arms with some big fellow who 
is on the road to good luck, but usually he has to save himself 
by flight into regions far away. At this season young bulls are 
found roving over the country in most unlikely places. One 
walked through the main street of Carberry, Manitoba, some 
years ago. Another was shot out on the open prairie 20 miles 
from Moose Mountain. Many similar cases are recorded 
from Vermont and New Hampshire, and in each it seems to 
have been a hopeful young bull Moose going out into the world 
to seek his fortune. 

THE Meanwhile the pair that were left in possession of the 

WALLOW U U J • • 1 1 1- 1 • 

swamp have been disportmg themselves accordmg to their 
minds. The bull Moose makes a wallow or *' soil " or *' gross," 
as it is called in the Old World. At a chosen spot in the thicket 



he digs and paws the mud and irrigates it abundantly till it 
IS a mud bath with every intensified odour that his physical 
personality can contribute. In this he wallows, and plays to 
his infinite satisfaction, and with results which seem to prove 
that it does not m the least repel the lady Moose of his choice 
I have seen this wallow many times in America, more 
especially on the Ottawa, but have no proof that this very spot 

ScaldinalTa"^ °^ *' '''''''' "' " '' '"PP°^^d ^ be in 

It is an interesting beginning of civilization when we 
find an animal with special places for special things. This 
we see well developed in the "leks" of the capercailzie and the 
dancing and drumming places of the grouse, or among Mice 
whrch go out of their way to leave their dung at one spot, as 
well as certain species that repair to a given place at the ap- 
proach of death. But, so far as known, the present species is 
the only one of our Deer that has advanced on these lines. 

The Moose has to condense his intenser pleasures into a 
couple of weeks, so takes them seriously. During this time 
he even forgets to eat, and on returning from his wedding-trip 
he IS no better than a spent salmon, or the last run of shad 
which are parallelisms for the same effect from the same cause' 
and are understood to mean also "not fit for human food." ' 

1 he old Moose has no longer any well-founded objections 
to receiving his step-children back into the family, and as 
noted already, the group in the Moose yard that winter is 
usually the mother, the children, and the father that isn't 

The *'old bachelor" and the "old maid" are well-known the un. 
characters in all the higher walks of animal life. Among '^^"^^ 
American ruminants they are known as the 'Mone bull" and 
the barren cow." The lone bull is usually an old fellow who 
has outgrown the ardour of youth. Some believe him to be 
one whose mate has died. He generally wanders alone and is 
ot uncertain temper. The barren cow is commonly so by mis- 

178 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

chance, and is distinguished first by her fine condition; second, 
the absence of calf. Roderick MacFarlane writes : ^^ *' Hunters 
assert that hermaphrodite and barren females are sometimes 
met with, and that these imperfect examples almost invariably 
attain a larger size and heavier weight than their fertile kin- 

FOOD The food of the Moose is browse, twigs, and leaves of 

many hard woods, their particular favourite being moosewood 
or striped maple. Yet they do eat grass, as I have many times 
witnessed, and once found on dissection that the stomach 
contents were half grass. They do not always kneel for it, 
as is stated, but often eat like a horse, merely bending their 
necks if the grass is high, or adopting an inelegant giraffe-like 
straddle if it be low (see Plate VIII). Although they feed 
chiefly on twigs and bark in winter, I observed that about 
Carberry they devoured quantities of equisetum, or joint-grass, 
which sticks up through the snow. 

" Moose rise and feed at dawn. About sunrise they again 
lie down to chew the cud or sleep till ten or eleven o'clock. 
Then they feed till two o'clock in the afternoon, again lie down 
till four or five o'clock, then feed till dusk, when they lie down 
for the night.'; (J. G. Lockhart.f 

STRANGE Though the least gregarious of our Deer, the Moose is 

HABITS o o y 

not without social amusements. Their yarding is a friendly 
gathering for the enjoyment and benefits of each other's 
society and they have also a weird performance that seems to be 
as contagious and psychologically deep-rooted as the "voodoo 
dance." This I have often heard of, but never seen. At 
certain seasons, more especially in high winds, these animals, 
I am told by many hunters, "go crazy," coursing around like 
dogs playing tag, chasing each other without regard to danger 
from their natural enemies, and yet apparently without any sex 
impulse. At such times they are easily approached and shot. 

•* Mam. N. W. Ter., Proc. U. S. N. M., 1905, pp. 678-9. 
^* Proc. U. S. N. M., Vol. XIII, No. 827, p. 308. 

(From photograph by Jenness Richardson.) 




4^ i^^^^ 

, : ,^^ 

- -> 


- /-«*.. 

■i ' — ' "/ 

' • ■— • 


The bull tracks (.\ and C) are 5x6 inches ; the strides vary from 2 feet to 5 feet. The softer 

ground and deeper snow causes the toes to spread and the hind hoofs to show. 
The cow track (B) is 4x5^ inches, and is distinguished by its smaller size and slenderer form. 

Moose 179 

George H, Measham, of Woonona, Manitoba, writes me con- 
cerning a tame Moose that he knew: "It had an instinctive 
knowledge of changes in the weather, and before a winter's 
storm would always run around in a circle a few times, then 
lie down in the most exposed place it could find, facing the 

The Moose is so marvellously gifted with smell, hearing, 
wariness, and speed, that a skilful Moose hunter is conceded 
to have achieved the perfection of woodcraft. Yet it has been 
found numberless times that a Moose seeing a man, without 
smelling him, is likely to stand and gaze at him in blank 
curiosity. This happens oftenest during the summer, while 
the Moose is In the water, and the man in a canoe. Such 
occasions afford great chances to the camera hunter. Nearly 
all good photographs of wild Moose have been taken at such 

Commenting on this habit R. MacFarlane says:^^ "While 
standing in the water they sometimes seem quite indifferent to 
the near presence of man, and will then retire only after being 
repeatedly fired at. I myself had proof of this on one occasion 
when ascending the Anderson River in the end of June, 1866. 
There were five of six in the party, when we discovered three 
full-grown Moose in the water. As they were not in good con- 
dition, we did not care to kill them, but in order to test the truth 
of this peculiarity I made the Indians fire a number of shots 
very close to them, but to no purpose. In fact, we had to 
scream and yell at them before they got out and stalked away 
at a very leisurely pace." 

Another remarkable weakness of the species is the deep 
sleep that sometimes possesses it. An instance of this was 
related to me by William Clark, of the Hudson's Bay Company, 
at Winnipeg: 

He was crossing the wooded country between Lakes 
Manitoba and Winnipeg in the early spring, and had with 

^ Mam. N. W. T. Proc. U. S. N. M., 1905, p. 678. 

180 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

him a dog-team drawing a loaded sled, a couple of hounds 
running loose, and an Indian guide. The dogs were being 
driven with the usual amount of shouting and noise, and this 
was increased as they came to a steep place. On the hill was 
a tall spruce, and as there was no trail, the Indian climbed it to 
ascertain the best route. When he was at the top they held 
a conversation in tones suited to the distance between them. 
Just after he came down, the dogs that were beating about 
chanced into a thicket close by where Clark was, and with a 
great uproar put up a pair of Moose that had evidently lain 
asleep through all the clamour of their travelling and shouting. 
Of course no gun was handy, so they got away. (Miller 
Christy asks if it is not possible that these Moose were inten- 
tionally hiding.) 

Ordinarily, Moose are the wariest of wild things. Says 

''They generally lie down with their tails to windward, 
trusting to their senses of hearing and smelling, which are re- 
markably acute, to warn them of approaching danger from 
that quarter; they can use their eyes to warn them from danger 
to leeward, where hearing, and especially smelling, would be of 
little use. * * * 

"They also have the remarkable instinct to make a short 
turn and sleep below the wind of their fresh track, so that 
any one falling thereon and following it up is sure to be heard 
or smelt before he can get within shooting distance." 

AS A Though the old bull Moose is apt to be bad tempered 

DRAUGHT ,, , "^ , . , , ^ . , ^ , 

ANIMAL all the year, and is sure to be dangerous m the autumn, the 
species is blessed with a better disposition than most of the 
Deer family. A tame Deer is more dangerous than a wild 
Bear. But the Moose that has been brought up by hand is a 
gentle creature and usually quite safe, except in the autumn. 
George H. Measham writes me : "A neighbour of mine, Henry 
Stoggett, of Shoal Lake, had a tame Moose for a considerable 
time. It was very affectionate, and when called would come 

'' Proc. U. S. N. M., Vol. XIII, No. 827, p. 308. 

Moose 181 

like a dog; also it was as playful as a kitten, and would like 
a kitten play with a round pebble, or croquet ball, striking it 
with Its front feet and running after it. It would also gambol 
with the children, dogs, or young cattle. But its playful slaps 
were no fun for whoever got them, so were not encouraged '' 
I have seen a number of Moose that had been broken to 
harness. They are docile, easily broken, exceedingly swift 
and, being natural trotters, are well suited for light travel' 
They are so much more tractable and valuable than reindeer 
that one wonders why they have not been fully domesticated 
in the countries where they are indigenous; but if taken out 
of their native surroundings they rarely survive long. 

In all the vast region that is dotted on my map the Moose gift of 
IS or was, the Indians' staff of life. What the Buffalo was to toT' 
the Flams, the Whitetail Deer to the southern woods, and the 
Caribou to the Barrens, the Moose is to this great northern 
belt of swamp and timber land. 

It is the creature that enables the natives to live. Assisted 
in warm weather by various fish, it bears practically the burden 
of their support. Its delicious steaks are their staple food but 
Its nose or muffle is a delicacy. Its hide furnishes the 'best 
clothing and moccasin leather, or provides snow-shoes that 
enable the hunter to kill more Moose. Its back sinew is the 
sewing thread of the country, its horns and bones make tools 
Its hoofs can be converted into rattles, and its coarse, bristly 
mane, six inches long, and white except the tips, furnishes raw 
material for embroidery. When dyed with native dyes and 
skilfully worked into leather and birch-bark, these bristles are 
as effective as Porcupine quills— are indeed often mistaken for 
them by the uninitiated. 

The enemies of the Moose are, in order of danger: Man, enemies 
mosquitoes, deer-flies, ticks, disease, deep snow. Wolves, Bears, 
and Cougars. Without doubt man should stand first, since 
pump guns have come into use. 

Nature has two devices for offsetting deep snow: one is 

182 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

snow-shoes, the other is stilts. These are illustrated respec- 
tively in the Lynx and the Moose. Undoubtedly, snow-shoes 
are superior. When the snow is deep and crusted, the Lynx is 
even better off, but the Moose is in a sad plight. Probably it 
is only at such times that the adults have cause to fear the 

It is a fact that the least danger man has to meet in wild 
countries is from wild beasts. It is so small to-day that it 
does not count; his greatest perils are wild men, disease, hun- 
ger, and insects. The Moose is in a similar case, except that 
he is in no danger of starvation, and, being a stay-at-home, is 
less likely to get disease than is a stranger in a strange cUmate. 

Acci- A most singular case came to my knowledge in Manitoba 

AND some years ago. It will be remembered that after the failure of 
DISEASES ^j^g first Atlantic cable, in 1858, a telegraph line was planned 
across the continent by way of Winnipeg and Alaska to be 
carried under Bering's Strait and overland to St. Petersburg 
and Paris. This was completed for some hundreds of miles 
when the success of the new cable in 1867 put a stop to the 
work and the useless wire hung there till the poles rotted. But 
this wire was made before the era of trusts; it was well gal- 
vanized, and is sound to-day. In the fall of 1884 a bull Moose 
butting playfully at one of the tottering poles brought it down 
on his head, and presently found the wire entangled in his 
antlers. He struggled and tusselled, getting more and more 
wound up, until he was helpless, and died there. The carcass 
was found by Chief Metayash some weeks afterward. It 
was a very fine, large Moose, and had over 200 pounds of wire 
fast to his head and horns. The ground around for an acre 
was beaten and trampled black — not a stick nor a green thing 
was left on it. 

This, with another curious thing in Moose life, was re- 
ported to me by William G. Tweddell, of Woonona, Manitoba. 
He asked me if I ever heard of the Peeto-mong-sons or 
'Little Moose in the Big Moose.' One Moose in about 500, 
he said, has a little medicine Moose in its skin. When this is 

Moose 183 

found it is cause for much rejoicing among the Indians. It 
is carefully preserved as great medicine, and the man who 
found it, is believed to have secured a mascot of eternal good 
luck in Moose hunting. 

Cross examination did not shake his evidence. It was 
not a foetus — Tweedell was sure of that. It was in the skin, 
and usually in that of a bull Moose. He had seen two; the 
most recent one was about a foot long; it had hoofs and hair, 
but no bones. Also he had seen the same sort of thing among 

The explanation of the mystery is not far to seek. It is 
well known in surgery that within the skin may be formed a 
pocket in which are developed skin, hair, teeth, nails, or any 
other product of the skin. These are known as dermoid 
cysts. They have no established relation to age, sex, or bodily 
locality. They are best known in the human species, because 
they have been most looked for there. Yet here, evidently, was 
a case of dermoid cyst in the Moose observed by a reliable and 
educated man. 

Dr. Gordon Bell, of Winnipeg, explains such develop- 
ments as *' foetus in foeto.''* Of this I met with a strange case 
at Meeker, Col., October 4, 1901. Dr. J. W. ColUns, the 
veterinary, showed me a foetus of apparently three months* 
development that had been aborted the night before by a 
fifteen-month filly that was still sucking her dam. We 
examined the case together; there was no possibility, he said, 
of a male parent being concerned. 

Thomas Hutchins mentions" that the buck Caribou has 
in the lower part of the neck a peculiar "cyst or bladder about 
the bigness of a half-crown piece, full of fine flaxen hair neatly 
coiled round to the thickness of almost an inch." This cyst 
has not been observed by other naturalists, but E. W. Darbey 
has secured for me a similar one from the throat of a bull 
Moose. It measured about i\ inches by if inches, and was 
situated half-way between jaw and chest on the middle line of 

^' Thos. Hutchins's MSS. Now in Archives of Hudson's Bay Co. 

184 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the throat. The flaxen hair coiled in it was much Hke that 
on the outside except in colour. It was in three layers, 
which probably correspond with the three coats the animal 
had grown. 

George Linklater, of Deux Rivieres, tells me that in 
June, 1904, he had a close view of three Moose — probably a 
family — crossing Lake Caughawanna, 40 miles east of Kip- 
pewa. One was a big bull, another a yearling bull, and the 
third an old cow. The big bull had four or five tumours 
hanging to his back and shoulders. They were each about 
three inches across and hung by a narrow neck to the skin, 
swinging about as he moved. His hair was so short that he 
seemed naked. 

PSYCHOL- There is a curious side to animal nature, seen in most 
highly organized species and illustrated in the Moose by the 
following instances: 

The first was related by George Crawford, the well-known 
guide of Mattawa, as follows : 

In March, 1888 (or 9), while out with his partner to 
catch Moose for Dr. S. Webb, they came on a Moose calf 
track in the deep snow. There was no sign of a cow, so they 
turned their dog loose. Very soon they heard him barking 
and came up to the calf. It rushed toward them with bris- 
tling mane. His partner ran and Crawford got behind a 
tree. The calf charged up to him and quickly wheeled to 
face the dog. It paid no heed to the man then, but when 
he turned homeward it followed for protection, crowding up 
close and watching the dog. At home he put a halter on 
it, and it allowed him to lead it quietly into the stable. 
It was shipped to Dr. Webb, and is now at large in the 

The following was related to me by Edouard Crete, of 
Deux Rivieres: 

In late September, in 1893, a mail-carrier was starting 
from Bear Lake to Deux Rivieres. Crete showed him a short 
cut over Brule Lake. Some hours later two men were out 

Moose 185 

that way looking for axe handles, and heard the mall-carrier 
shouting for help. Instead of going to him they ran back to 
camp in great fear. Crete picked up a rifle and went with the 
foreman as fast as possible. They heard the mail-carrier as 
soon as they came within half a mile. When near enough he 
shouted, *'A Moose has me up a tree." They came close 
and saw it was a cow Moose. She would neither go away 
nor charge. Indeed, she paid little attention to the new- 
comers. The foreman, Jean Basquin, walked up to within 
twenty yards and shot her. 

The mail-carrier said that he came on the cow suddenly. 
She was alone, but came running toward him squealing. Her 
mane was up and she seemed to be threatening him. He had 
nothing but a hatchet, so he ran for a tree, and happened to find 
one leaning so much that he could walk up. She followed him 
within touching distance all the way, but did not strike at him. 
The tree at the highest point was only lo feet up. Here the 
man sat, the Moose below. She could easily have struck him, 
but made no attempt to do so. There she stayed watching 
him; her mane bristled all the time. When she heard the other 
men coming she merely turned her head, but during the three 
hours she kept the man up that tree, she did not leave the spot 
for a moment. 

After skinning her carcass a very unexpected condition 
was brought to light. Evidently she had been attacked by 
a bull Moose a few days before. The horns had pierced 
her left side in five places. Inflammation had begun and 
matter had formed in four places. She must have been 
suffering great pain, and would probably have died before 
long. They couldn't make out why she should go to the 
man, but it is quite sure she wasn't there to do him any 
harm, for she had every opportunity to do so and did not 
strike at him even once. 

This instinct when in deep trouble or flying from great 
danger, to blindly trust another power, that may not be friendly 
but certainly is superior — to seize on the one remaining hope — 
is as deep-rooted as it is remarkable. We see signs of it 

186 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

throughout the animal creation, and the higher the species the 

more marked it is. • , r i, j- 

We have been looking among the animals tor the rudi- 
ments of civilization; possibly in this we see the rudiments of 
something else that finds its highest development in man. 


The Woodland Caribou or American Reindeer. 

Rangifer caribou (Gmelin), 
{Rayigijer, made up by Hamilton Smith in 1827, apparently from old French, Rangier, 
a Reindeer, and the L. jera, a wild beast {Cent. Diet.); caribou, the New Eng- 
land Indian name.) 

Cervus tarandus caribou Gmelin, 1788, Syst. Nat. I, p. 177. 

Rangifer caribou, AuD.and Bach., 1854, Quad. N.A.III, p.m. 

Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, le Caribou. 
Cree, Saut., & OjiB., Ah-tik. 
Chipewyan, Et-then. 
Yankton Sioux, See-hah Tang-kah. 

The genus Rangifer (H. Smith, 1827) shows the character- 
istics of the Family, Cervidce, but has further: Palmated antlers, 
which are present in both sexes; muzzle, all hairy; a tarsal or 
inside hock gland, but no metatarsal or outside mid-leg gland; 
the hoofs broad and flat, the cloots or accessory hoofs so long 
as commonly to reach the ground; teeth as in the Wapiti, but 
often without canines. All the American species of Caribou 
agree with the present in general arrangement of white patches. 

How large is the Woodland Caribou } Larger than the size 
Whitetail Deer, smaller than the Wapiti. This is a compara- 
tive answer that usually satisfies the hunter. Exact measure- 
ments of typical specimens are not available. Audubon and 
Bachman give* thus the dimensions of one two and one-half 
years old, presumably a male: 

Length from nose to root of tail .... 6 feet o inches (1,830 mm.) 

Length of tail (vertebrae) 4 " ( 102 mm.) 

Length of tail (including hair) .... 6^ " ( 165 mm.) 

' Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 113. 


188 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Height of shoulder 3 feet 6 inches (1,067 mm.) 

Width between the eyes 52 " ( H^ rnm.) 

From point of nose to lower canthus of eye 9 " ( 228 mm.) 

From point of nose to ear i foot 2 " { 355 mm.) 

Height of ear posteriorly 5 " (127 mm.) 

Dr. W. T. Hornaday states' that a large male Woodland 
Caribou, from Maine, now in the New York Zoological Park, 
stands 48 inches (1,220 mm.) at the shoulder and weighs 280 
COLOUR In winter the general body colour of the Woodland Cari- 

bou is a dull grayish-brown or dun, darker on the face and legs. 
The neck, forehead, belly, spot behind shoulder, under side of 
tail, the region about the tail, and the band around each foot 
are white. 

In summer, its body colour is darker. 

Individuals vary greatly, however, in respect of their 
body colour, as well as in the amount of white. 

The young have traces of a few pale spots on the ground 


RANGE The accompanying map shows that the ranges of the four 

principal species of Caribou are distinct from one another, 
geographically, climatically, and botanically. 

The earliest described of the four was the Woodland 
species. This is the Caribou proper; it must be the starting 
point and standard for discussing the others. 

On the map the area given to the Woodland Caribou is 
the same now as it was in primitive days. It is said to be 
nearly exterminated in those small areas of the United States 
that happen to fall within this limit. But reference to early 
authority, such as Josselin (1672), shows that in these small 
areas the Caribou was at best merely a straggler. Its proper 
region is about 2,500 miles long from east to west, and 400 
to 600 miles wide. 

' Amer. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 132. 


This map is founded on the records of some hundreds of explorers and naturalists, with assistance from Madison Grant's maps (An. 
Rep. N. Y. Z. S., 1003), from E. A. Prehle, and in Alaska from the Biological Survey Map published in the Yearbook, U. S. Dep. Agr., 1907. 
The crosses arc cxtra-limital records. 

The following species have been recognized 

Rangifer groenlandicus (Gmelin), 
Rangifer pearjji Allen, 
Rangifer arcticui (Richardson), 

Rangifer slonei Allen, 
Rangifer granti Allen, 
Rangifer dawsoni Seton, 
Rangifer caribou (Gmelin), 


Rangifer lerraenovoe Bangs, 
Rangifer monlanus Seton, 
Rangifer osborni Allen. 

190 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

HOME As noted in the introduction (p. 26), no wild animal 

RANGE • . . 

literally wanders; all have a limit of individual range, a home 
locality. But I have failed entirely to get any light on the 
extent of the individual Caribou's range. More than any 
other animal I know, it roams with little regard to anything 
but food and wind. 

During the winter it is not under the necessity of "yard- 
ing," as do Moose and many other kinds of Deer, for it can 
travel over the drifts when the snow is too deep to travel 
through^ and travel it does the whole year round. I have yet to 
learn of this animal settling down contentedly in any given 
small locality. Its food is everywhere, it follows its food, and 
famine seems to be unknown in its world. 

HISTORY Although the habitat of the Caribou lay nearer Europe 

than that of any other of the American big game, and the 
animal was a common and characteristic inhabitant of those 
northern parts of the continent visited by Cabot (1497), 
Roberval (1534), and Carrier (1535), this species was not dis- 
covered by white-men until after the Wapiti, the Whitetailed 
Deer, and the Moose. So far, I have found no earlier mention 
than that by Les Carbot (or de Monts) in 1609.^ 

He lists as the principal beasts of the chase: 
NAMES " Elian, Caribou, Cerf, etc." *' Caribou " (in this spelling) 

is the word he uses throughout. 

But G. Sagard-Theodat,^ in 1636, wrote of these animals 
as Caribou or Wild Asses {Caribous ou Asms Sauvages). 

Josselin, writing in 1672,^ says of this: 

"The Maccarib, Caribo, or Pohano, a kind of Deer, as big 
as a Stag, round-hooved, smooth hair'd, and soft as silk, their 
horns grown backward along their backs to their rumps and 
turn again a handful beyond their Nose, having another Horn 
in the middle of their Forehead about half a yard long, very 
streight but wreathed like an Unicorn's Horn, of a brown 

^ Les Carbot, Nouvelle France, pub. 1618, p. 896. 

* Hist. Canada, 1636, p. 750. 

® New England Rareties, 1672, pp. 20-21. 

Caribou 191 

jettie color, and very strelght, the creature is nowhere to be 
found but upon Cape Sable in the French Quarters, and there 
too rarely, they being not numerous, some few of their Skins, 
and their Streight Horns are (but very sparingly) brought to 
the English.'' 

From this it will be seen that ** Caribou '' or " Maccaribo " 
is a native American word— the Indian name of the animal. 
Generations later Sir John Richardson was misled into stating 
that' " ' Caribou ' was a French-Canadian word (from ' Quarre- 
boeuf,' a square ox), derived from the size of the Antlers." 
Why large antlers should constitute a square ox is a puzzle, 
and why the adjective should be transposed in this case is 
another. We can only regret that Richardson, usually so 
reliable, should have made the mistake of recording a post 
hoc and absurd explanation. 

On the same page in which he gave forth this, Richardson kixds 

"In Rupert's Land and the northern extremity of the 
Continent, east of the Rocky Mountans, three races of Rein- 
deer are known and recognized by the natives and fur-traders, 
all passing under the French-Canadian appellation of Car- 
ibou. * * * 

"The smallest is the Barren-ground Reindeer, which 
brings forth its young in the islands and on the coasts of the 
Arctic Sea, and does not migrate further south in winter than 
the skirts of the woods. 

"The largest inhabits the wooded mountains and valleys 
of the Rocky Mountains, bordering on the Mackenzie. 

"And the third race, of an intermediate size, frequents 
the wooded and hill districts of Rupert's Land, passing during 
wmter into the interior and migrating in summer to the coast 
ot James's Bay. This kind seems to have been formerly 
plentiful as far south as the State of Maine, and small herds 
still frequent the border of Lake Superior and many parts of 

^ Zool. of Voy. Herald, 1854, p. 20. 

192 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This is the first clear and correct discrimination of the 
various groups of Caribou found on the North American 
mainland, and although no fewer than ten species have now 
been described, I suspect that, in the end, we shall come back 
very nearly to Sir John Richardson's view. The ten will 
probably merge into geographical races of four well-marked 
species, namely: 

(i) The very small gray Barren-ground Caribou (arcticus), 
with its six races, greenlandicus, pearyt, a'^cticus, 
granti, dawsoni, and stonei. 

(2) The huge black Mountain Caribou {montanus), with 

its two races, montanus and oshorni. 

(3) The middle-sized gray Woodland Caribou {caribou). 

(4) The White Newfoundland Caribou {terrce-novce). 

ANTLERS To the spottsmau the antlers are the all-important matter. 

Compared with them the creature's size and shape are very 

Just as the proverbial Red Indian was disgusted to find 
that he had killed a bald white-man, instead of one with a 
showy scalp-lock for trophy, so the sportsman would rather 
kill a 200-pound beast with a fine head than a 400-pounder 
that had dropped his antlers. 

There is no species of Deer in America of which the females 
have not occasionally been found with antlers. Among Caribou 
females it is the rule to wear them. In the herds of Norway I 
did not see any adult females without them. The females of the 
Woodland Caribou, however, sometimes are hornless. George 
Linklater even tells me that about Abitibi only the barren 
females have horns — that the cows bearing horns never bear 
young — a statement that requires further confirmation. 

Dr. J. B. Gilpin says:^ "Both sexes have horns, the doe 
comparatively small." According to various accounts the 
bull's horns are shed in midwinter, ysually in January, but 
often in December, if the animal be in exceptional vigour; 

'Mam. Nova Scotia, Proc. & Tr., N. S. Inst. Nat. Sci., Ill, 1872, p. 56. 

Caribou 193 

the young bulls carry theirs till early spring; the cows keep 
theirs till summer is near, dropping them about the time the 
calf is born. 

Frederick Talcot records* a case of an adult Caribou 
buck that was hornless. 

Typical antlers of male and female Woodland Caribou 
are shown (Figs. 84 and 87), also examples of the allied 
species (Figs. 80, 81 and 82). 

Although these specimens show well-marked differences, 
the diversity of form in each kind is so great that we can find 
in each of the species, examples that resemble the horns of each 
of the other species. 

The finest horns are seen in the great Black Caribou of 
Alaska (osborni). These, more than any other, combine large 
size and many points with remarkable symmetry and six per- 
fect shovels fully and evenly developed — a feature rarely seen 
in other parts of the mainland. 

Of the American Reindeer, the Woodland Caribou is be- 
lieved to have the smallest antlers, the Newfoundland the most 
massive, the Barren-ground the slenderest. 

The largest pair of Caribou antlers mentioned in Ward's 
Records of Big Game (1899) are the property of Mrs. Mac- 
intosh, of Havering Park, Essex, England, and are from 
Canada. They are given as 62 inches along the outside curves 
of the beam, have 49I inches spread, points 20 and 17. 

Cartwright mentions'* a Labrador specimen with 72 
points. But Harry E. Lee's 57-point Alaskan {R. osborni) 
from Kenai Peninsula, is the finest head of which I have a 
picture (Fig. 82). 

Judge Caton has pointed out^*' that the Woodland Caribou glands 
and Norway Reindeer have in each hind-foot, deep between 
the toes, a curious gland that exudes an unctuous substance. 
This is probably part of a system of scent signals; but, in 

* Forest and Stream, September 12, i8g6, p. 203. 
'Journal, Sixteen Years Res. Labrador, 1792. 
'"Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 265. 

Fig. So — Taiiana Caribou. 

Spread, 475^ inches ; length of right beam, 53 inches ; points, 20 and 18. 

In the collection of W. F. Sheard. 

Fig. 81 — Horns of Mountain Caribou from the type 
specimen in Canadian Geological Survey Museum. 

Taken at Revelstoke, B. C. 
Beams, 39 inches long; 27 points. 

Fig. 82 — Fifty-seven-point Caribou from Kenai Peninsula. 

In the collection of Harry E. Lee. 

From a photograph by La Roche, Seattle. 



Fig. 83- 


Fig. S6 — A remarkable set in the collection of \V. F. White, 
-Thirty-nine-point Caribou. "^ Winnipeg, said to be from Lake Winnipeg. 

River, New Brunswick, by Charles F. Riorclan, Yearns, 34 inches long ; 42 points in all. 

November 13, 189S. 
n from his own photograph. 

Fig. 84 — Antlers of female Woodland Caribou from Lake 

r > 

Fig. 85 — .Antlcrsof female Caribou, each about ten inches long. FiG. 87 — Antlers of Woodland Caribou (male) from 

From a photogr.-iph of a specimen in the New York Zoological Park. Rat Portage, Ontario. (Winter, 1903-4.) 

By permission of the New York Zoological Society. In the collection of E. W. Darbey, Winnipeg. 


196 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Norway, I have seen the Reindeer again and again rubbing 
the growing horns on the region of this gland. The Nor- 
wegians told me that it was done to oil the horns. I think, 
however, that probably the action was merely to scratch the 
tender velvet of the growing antlers; just as a cow or sheep 
always scratches its head with its hind-foot. 
GREGA- The Woodland Caribou is found all winter in small bands 

of both sexes. Five to twenty are commonly seen together 
at this time. Thus the species is quite gregarious, yet is but 
slightly sociable, since individuals rarely combine their efforts 
for a common purpose. 
coMMu- A gregarious animal has usually many means of com- 

TioN municating with its fellows. In this case, the well-marked 
livery of the species serves as his uniform does a soldier; it 
lets friend and foe alike know who this is. 

Next in importance is the "white flag," the tail and its 
surrounding disk, with which, as in most Deer, the Caribou 
does its wigwag signalling. The sudden elevation of this 
white tail when danger is sensed, conveys at once a silent alarm 
to the nearest of its kind. Probably the white patch of hair 
on the throat is used much as the Antelope use their disk, that 
is, as a flash-signal. 

VOICE This Caribou's grunt I have never heard in a state of nat- 

ure, but it is said to be much like that of the Norwegian Rein- 
deer, and my notes on that are very full, thus : 

"On July 4, 1900, got into a herd of about 1,000 half- 
wild Reindeer. Their only vocal sound is a grunt. This is 
uttered singly or else doubled; that is, two are given in rapid 
succession. It is sometimes the call of a cow to her calf, and 
sometimes is uttered by one that has been left behind, evidently 
a note of alarm or inquiry to find out if his friends are close at 
hand. When I imitated this call the near Reindeer came 
cautiously and curiously toward me. Usually, when one or 
two in the herd begin it, the others join in till it is like a volley 
of grunts." 

In the rutting season, Linklater tells me, he has often 

Norway, July S, igoo. 







Caribou 197 

heard the Caribou about Abitibi make a double grunting call, 
the first sound raucous and deep, as though uttered while 
taking breath, the second more like a light explosive cough or 
bark. The bulls also make a deep rumbling. 

In several parts of Canada traditions exist that formerly 
the Indians used to call the Caribou as they do the Moose. 
My own experience would lead me to believe this quite possible, 
but the art has been forgotten. 

The most singular, perhaps, of the sounds made by the hoof- 
Caribou is the clicking or creaking of the hoof. At each step 
each foot gives out a loud, sharp crack. 

This is easily heard at a distance of fifty feet in a wind, 
and twice as far In still weather. When a herd is moving along 
the countless crackles from their hoofs make a volume of low, 
continuous sound. 

Persons who have never heard this curious clicking have 
no diflficulty In explaining It: "Of course the hoofs spread 
when they bear the weight of the animal," they say, *'and, 
when lifted, the hard surfaces spring together with a * crack.'" 
But close observation shows that the crack Is made by some 
mechanism in the foot, and that it *'goes off" while the weight 
IS on it. 

It is not always one sharp crack, but sometimes a crackle, 
or several little sounds close together. Many examinations 
made in Norway and in the Winnipeg Zoo have shown me that 
the crack takes place just as the foot is relieved of the animal's 
weight, but before any part Is lifted from the ground. The 
hoofs do not strike together during the stride, and the crackle Is 
not heard until the foot is placed, and the weight Is on It. Thus 
it may crackle twice at each tread, always once as the weight 
Is coming on; usually a second time as It Is going ofi^. I have 
walked many times on hands and knees by the side of the 
Reindeer to make observations. On one occasion I Induced 
one to walk beside me while (at considerable personal risk) I 
kept my hand on the knuckle-joint of his hind-foot. The 
crack took place each time with the bending of the knuckle- 

198 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

joint. It was so violent that it jarred the hand laid on it. It 
was deep-seated and on the level of the cloots or back hoofs. 
Apparently it was made by tendons or sesamoids slipping over 
adjoining bones. 

The object of this curious sound is, doubtless, the same 
as that of the whistling of a whistler's wing or the twittering 
of birds migrating by night. It is to let the rest know what is 
doing — that the band is up and moving — has gone such and 
such a way, or to notify the little one that his mother is on the 
march and that he should keep alongside. 

HOOFS The hoof of this animal has another claim on attention. 

As noted in the Moose article, nature has two answers 
for the problem of travel through deep snow, namely, stilts 
and snow-shoes. These are exemplified, respectively, by the 
feet of the Moose and the feet of the Lynx. Both contriv- 
ances are good, but, upon the whole, the latter is the better. 
In the Caribou we have a wonderful combination of the 
two. Nature has given to this creature of snow and swamp 
both stilts and snow-shoes. Its long, thin shanks are actually 
longer in proportion to its bulk than are those of the Moose, 
and its hoofs are a unique combination of snow-shoes and 

The ordinary track of a moving Reindeer I found to be 
4 inches wide by 7 long. In places it spreads an inch wider 
and a couple of inches longer. As the need is increased the 
bearing surface is increased by bringing more of the foot to the 
ground. So that in crossing bogs or deep snow the whole leg 
from hoof to hock gives supporting surface. I noticed that 
in crossing snow-drifts I sunk much deeper than the Rein- 
deer. I found, further, that a Reindeer has about i square 
inch of foot support for each 2 pounds of his weight, while 
the Moose in standing is under a pressure of 8 pounds to the 
square inch. 

Captain Hardy states," concerning the Caribou, "that its 
foot is a beautiful adaptation to the snow-covered country in 

" Forest Life in Acadie, 1869, pp. 129-130. 



which it resides, and that on ice it has naturally an advantage 
similar to that obtained artificially by the skaters. In winter 
time the frog is entirely absorbed, and the edges of the hoof, 
now quite concave, grow out in thin, sharp ridges, each division 
on the under surface presenting the appearance of a huge 
mussel shell. The frog is absorbed by the latter end of Novem- 
ber, when the lakes are frozen; the shell grows with great rapid- 

Fig. S8 — Right hind-foot of Newfoundland Caribou. 
From specimen No. 414, Field Museum, half natural size. Specimen taken m September, so that the frog is not yet absorbed. 

ity, and the frog does not fill up again till spring, when the 
antlers bud out. With this singular conformation of the foot, 
its great lateral spread, and the additional assistance afforded 
in maintaining a foothold on slippery surfaces, by the long, 
stiff bristles which grow downward from the fetlock, curving 
upward underneath between the divisions, the Caribou is 
enabled to proceed over crusted snow, to cross frozen lakes, or 
ascend or descend icy precipices, with an ease which places 
him beyond the reach of all pursuers." 

F. Forester says,^^ in his vivid description of the Caribou's 
flight: "Snow-shoes against him alone avail little, for, 
propped up on the broad, natural snow-shoe of his long, elastic 

" Henry William Herbert [" Frank Forester"], American Game in its Seasons, 1853, 
pp. 29-30. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

pasterns and wide-cleft crackling hoofs, he shoots over the 
crests of the deepest drifts, unbroken, in which the lordly 
Moose would soon flounder shoulder deep if hard pressed, and 
the graceful Deer would fall despairingly and bleat in vain for 

In yet another particular the Caribou's foot stands first in 
its class, namely, as a paddle. With his broad-spreading 




4l««ll!|l()ll % 

7i yC^ny. 

j»\ ^. 

Fig. 8o — Tracks of Woodland Caribou on Athabaska River, October, 1907. 
The paces vary from 20 to 40 inches. 

hoofs he is as truly web-footed as a coot, while the thin shank 
and closed foot give the perfect return. 

HAIR Clad next to the skin with a coat of oily wool, the Caribou 

is covered exteriorly with a dense pelage of fine quills. While 
they are truly hairs, each is a little barrel of air, which increases 
in thickness until the coat is perfect. Being air-cells, they are 
light and make excellent non-conductors, thus conserving the 
bodily warmth of the animal. 

But they are of service also in another way, namely, as 
floats. Baillie-Grohman mentions the use of Caribou hair to 
fill life-belts, and says, farther, that a German, Dr. Mintz, has 
invented a Caribou or Reindeer-hair cloth which, when made 
into suits, prevents the human body from sinking.^^ 

Every Caribou wears, in effect, a cork-jacket; and when 
this is in prime condition the creature seems on the water 
rather than in it. No other quadruped that I know floats as 
high out of the water as the Caribou. 

" Sport and Life Br. Col., 1900, p. 133. 

Caribou 201 

The speed of the Caribou when swimming is so great that swim- 
it takes the best of canoe-men to overtake a vigorous buck. A powers 
good canoeist is supposed to paddle about 5 miles an hour; so 
the Caribou may attain 4 for a short distance, though ordinarily 
its speed is little over 2. There are many kinds of woodland 
and rough country over which the animal cannot travel afoot 
so fast as this. What wonder, then, that it is so ready to take 
to the water on every occasion. 

In Keewatin, W. R. Hine had interesting evidence of this. 
At many places he saw where, on coming to some rocky bluff 
over a lake, they had unhesitatingly toboganned down, caring 
nothing so long as they plumped into deep water at the bottom. 

An animal with such powers and gifts is indifferent to the 
elements and superior to space. It dwells, moreover, in a 
country where man is rare and where its food is in measureless 
abundance. Thus it has little to dread from man or beast, 
and nothing from hunger or climate, the deadly enemies of 
most wild creatures. 

What, then, has it to fear .? Why have not its numbers enemies 
reached the limit of its food-supply ? Probably because it has 
countless irresistible deadly foes in the insect world. 

All through the summer the herds are harassed by clouds 
of mosquitoes that drive them to seek the open, where they are 
subject to the attacks of several kinds of verra-fly, or gad-fly. 


There is little doubt that the well-known migrations of the ^^^^gra- 
Caribou may be explained by a consideration of these insect 
clouds at one season in conjunction with deep snow at another; 
the latter by hiding their food in winter, and thus driving them 
into the woods; the insect hordes, by forcing them back again 
in spring to the partial solace of the kindly breezes that fan 
them in the open or on the highest levels of the nearest moun- 

In one sense all the Deer are migratory. The Moose may 
migrate only 5 or 10 miles from the low swamps in summer to 
the hardwood ridges in winter; the Blacktail of the mountains 
may descend from the high hill-tops of its summer range to 

202 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

winter pastures of a lower level, miles away; the Wapiti may 
make a similar change on a still larger scale, when the first 
heavy snow comes down to warn it of the season's close; but 
the Caribou are the only Deer that at certain seasons gather 
in herds to travel clear out of one region to some entirely 
different region. 

If we divide the vast range of this species the long way, into 
four equal zones, we may say that the main body of Caribou is 
found in the northern three all summer and in the southern 
three all winter, and thus give a fair idea of its migrations. 

The Caribou is the Reindeer of America. This word 
Reindeer was long, though erroneously, supposed to mean 
running deer, in allusion to its speed (another after-thought, 
in the way of derivation, but so appropriate that it is still found 
in some very reputable dictionaries) — not that the Reindeer is 
speedy when compared with the Whitetail, but it keeps on so 
long and so straight that the hunter who follows the Caribou 
must be the best of travellers. The Moose may trot through 
the brush at the rate of 15 miles an hour; the Whitetail may 
bound over the ridges half as fast again; the Caribou may 
never rise above a i o-mile gait. The Moose, however, is satisfied 
when it has covered 5 or 6 miles and has merely removed to 
some other part of its range; the Whitetail is sure to stop after 
circling a mile or two and settle down again; but the startled 
Caribou keeps on, sometimes walking with long mile-eating 
strides, sometimes trotting, sometimes stopping to graze for a 
minute, rarely galloping or leaping, climbing hills, floundering 
through bogs, swimming lakes, turning aside for nothing, its 
lower speed offset by its persistence and directness, very often 
spending the night 100 miles from the place whence it started 
in the morning. 

cHARAc- In character, this creature is a strange mixture of wari- 

ness, erraticness, and stupidity. One never knows just what 
the Caribou is going to do next, but may be sure that the animal 
is going to do it with amazing energy and persistence. Its 

Caribou 203 

sense of smell Is exquisite, and its eyes and ears are good, but 
it relies mostly on its nose. 

I once had an adventure with a Caribou which, though 
slight and unromantic, might have cost me my life. It illus- 
trates the uncertain temper of the animal and the energy with 
which it can act on occasion: 

About 1889 some one in Maine offered Barnum a fine 
bull Caribou. The genial showman at once secured this animal, 
which, though so common in a wild state, is rare in menageries, 
and brought it, wild-eyed and sullen, to Madison Square Gar- 
den, New York. As soon as I heard of its arrival I wrote for 
permission to make some notes. Receiving this, I went to the 
Garden. The keeper in charge was as sulky as the prisoner. 
The letter of the Manager barely secured attention. 

"You'll find him there," and he jerked his head toward a 
dark stall. 

"That won't do," I said, "I am here to sketch him, and 
must see him." 

"Well, suit yourself." 

Proceeding to do so, I got a long rope halter on the crea- 
ture's neck. The keeper, seeing me about the risky business 
of leading the Caribou into the ring, and knowing that he would 
be held responsible, got another long halter, and together we 
brought the animal out where he could be seen. 

There was nothing to tie him to, so we had to stand holding 
the ropes and be ready to pull in different directions. In order 
to have my hands free for sketching, I tied the rope around my 
waist. Soon the keeper got very weary of his task. The 
clowns in the next ring were practicing for the afternoon per- 
formance and he turned to watch them. The Caribou seemed 
to see its chance. Giving a great bound it jerked the rope 
from the keeper's grasp and dashed the length of Madison 
Square Garden, dragging me by the rope which was tied about 
my waist. I rolled over many times, but, after about 50 yards, 
got my heels Into the sawdust and my hands on the rope. 
The circus people did nothing but laugh and cheer as the 
powerful brute lunged along; but the keeper, realizing that he 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Fig. go — Sketches of Norway Reindeer. 

was laying up trouble for himself, came to the rescue and caugnt 
the end of the other rope. 

Whereupon, the Caribou changed his behaviour and stood 
perfectly still, with head down, as though he were quite a dif- 
ferent animal. 

STRANGE In the Abitibi country, and doubtless elsewhere, the Wood- 
land Caribou has the habit, already ascribed to the Moose, of 
racing in a circle during a wind storm. George Linklater tells 
me that he has witnessed this several times. 


The Woodland species is more omnivorous than the moss- 
eating Barren-ground Caribou, as most green things are in its 
diet. In Norway the Reindeer is said to eat the Lemmings, 
or Moss-mice, but I find no record of such a depraved habit in 
any American species. 

Caribou 205 

In the early spring, as soon as the snow gets soft, the large spring 
bands of Woodland Caribou drift in a northerly direction and 
speedily break up, the old males going off by themselves. It 
is interesting to note that, up to this time, the females still wear 
their antlers — will do so, indeed, till summer, while the old 
stags have been dehorned by mother nature in early winter. 
The females are, therefore, well equipped to send the males 
about their business in case there be any who conform not 
promptly to the established usage of the Caribou. 

The calf is born in June and is of a reddish brown, varied 
with white, but not spotted all over, as in the true Deer. 
Sometimes twins are born. In Norway I was assured by the 
herdsmen that when this is the case the mother usually de- 
stroys the second arrival. 

The Norwegian Reindeer and the Barren-ground Caribou 
do not hide the calf at all, so I suppose that the same is true of 
the Woodland species. The mother stays with it, never going 
far away for a minute, and it is strong enough to follow her 
within an hour after birth. 

In the country around James's Bay M. Spencer says'^ that 
it is suckled for two months, and weaned by the ist of Sep- 

Early in October the rut sets in. The bulls begin to seek mating 
the cows, bellowing and fighting, much as do the Wapiti. I 
never had the luck to see them at this time, nor do I know 
any one who has. Linklater, after some years among the Cari- 
bou about Lake Abitibi, believes that they are polygamous, but 
has seen only two or three cows with one bull. 

Whether they make wallows or have any peculiar habits 
during this season, I can not learn. There is great lack of 
information, and at best we can do no more than fall back on 
analogy and reason from the habit of the Norwegian and 
Barren-ground species, that the bull beats off other bulls from 
as many cows as he can secure, and that he devotes himself to 
these for the season. In November, when the bands begin 

"Low, Expl. James Bay. Can. Geol. Surv., i8S8, App. Ill, p. 76. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 



their southward trek, he is with them still, but now is indif- 
ferent to the presence of other bulls. 

The great service rendered to man by the Reindeer of 
Lapland is well known, and the realization that we had in 
America a Lapland of our own, led long ago to a plan for es- 
tablishing the Caribou as 
a range animal in Alaska. 
Naturally enough, the first 
idea was to domesticate 
the native species. But the 
Reverend Sheldon Jack- 
son, Senator H. M. Teller, 
and the Hon. A. C. Dur- 
borrow, who took the 
cal, in that they availed 
themselves of the long do- 
mestication of the Rein- 
^^p^ deer in Europe, and im- 
"■ ported their stock from 
Norway and Lapland. 
These have prospered and 

There are now several 
thousand of them domesticated in Alaska. The project is an 
assured success, and the time is in sight when the great north- 
land will support a population of Reindeer and supply Rein- 
deer staples in exchange for those of the south. 

A similar scheme is now being successfully furthered in 
Labrador by Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell. 

A l/j ^ / whole problem in he 
'J .^, A^ were more wisely pn 

Sketches of Norway Reindeer. 

The Reindeer has always been an important animal to 
our race. The dawn of human history is known as "The 
Reindeer Age," because, at that time, the Reindeer was the 

'° Rep. Intro. Domestic Reindeer, Alaska. S. Jackson, U. S. Senate, 1896. 


Pellets all natural size, loo to 200 at each place 

jl/,/f-W<i<:*/a,/.-8-ii; 8-8, Buck; 9. 10. adult, probably doe ; 11, fawr. 

pi«_:^-G;:.uri4'ttr^^^^^^^^^ -'^ --'='■-« - '-«« - ^l^- of ^Vapiti. 

il/oo«. Group is-is ; though sometimes confluent in green grass season, these are typical and easily known. 

Caribou 207 

most numerous large animal in Europe, and the chief support 
of man. The bone-caves and lake-beds of southern Europe 
abound in Remdeer remains. The Cave-man who hunted the 
Remdeer, though a naked savage, had a wonderful feeling for 
art. He was the mventor of etching and has left us many 
pictures of contemporary life, etched on bone, slate, and ivory 
with that most primitive of gravers, a sharp-pointed flint. 

These pictures are the earliest-known efforts in art The 
most ancient monuments of Egypt, Assyria, and China were 
probably built thousands of years after the Stoneman had acci- 
dentally buried these etchings in the midden-heaps of his 

They are priceless and unimpeachable records of life at 
the time, in the one universal writing. They are, moreover, 
tair in drawing, good in composition, and masterly in character ' 
No one needs to be told that the man who drew these animals 
had been familiar with them from his youth up. 

Many species, from birds and snakes to elephants and 
men, are represented, but the best of the drawings always are 
those of the Reindeer. Among these, the palm is given to the 
Kesserloch etching on a piece of Reindeer antler. The repro- 
duction on the next page is full size. 

At first sight one may be disposed to question the drawing 
of the hind-legs and the incurved line of the belly. But a 
reference to the habits of the living animal shows that these 
parts are correctly represented. During the rut, the bull 
Reindeer are so devoted to the present engrossments that they 
even neglect to eat, and the late fall sees them spent in strength, 
worn out, and emaciated. They are then so weak that they 
are easily destroyed by Wolves and other enemies. From 
these they seek refuge in the bogs and marshes, where their 
own natural gifts are guarantee of safety, until the frost makes 
firm ground of all, by which time the stag has regained his 

The full-sized antlers and the long beard show that this 
was the season in the Cave-man's drawing. The pinched-up 
belly, the tottering hind-legs, and the truthful rendering of the 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

marsh all go to show that he was depicting something that he 
had seen with his own eyes, and that his Reindeer, indeed, was 
much the same as ours to-day, though he and the beasts he 
chased are reckoned with the species that Hved in Europe ten 
thousand years ago. 




Fig. 92 — Prehistoric drawing of Reindeer from Kesserloch Cave, Switzerland. 

(From Prof. Albert Hein's reproduction in Lartet and Christy's Keliquial Aquitanicae.) 
(Size of Original.) 


The Common Prongbuck, Antelope or Pronghorned 
Antelope of America, Cabrit or Cabrie. 

Anttlocapra americana (Ord). 

(Antilocapra, name compounded by Ord, in 1818, out of L. antilope, an antelope, and 
capra, a goat; americana, of America.) 

Antelope americana Ord, 1 81 5, Guthrie's Geogr. 2nd Am. 

ed., II, p. 292 (descr. on p. 308). 
Antilocapra americana^ Ord, 1818, Journ. de Phys., LXXXVII, 

p. 149. 
Type Locality. — On the Plains and the highlands of the 


French Canadian, le Cabrit. 

Cree, Ah-pi-chee-ah-tik' (small caribou). 

Yankton Sioux, Tah-chah-chus-cheen'-ah (small 

Ogallala Sioux, Tah-heen-cha-san'-la. 

The word Cabrit or Cabrie used by the half-breeds of 
the North-west may be, as Richardson suggests,^ a Basque cor- 
ruption of the Spanish cabra, a goat. The fact that the 
English fur-traders and the earliest Spanish explorers call it 
"Goat" helps this idea. ButDr. Coues thinks' Cabra,Cabbrie, 
Caberey, etc., may be a native word adapted. 

The names Le Squenoton and Squinaton, recorded by 
Dobbs and his anonymous predecessor,^ probably do not 
belong to this species. 

' F. B. A., 1829, 1, p. 262. 

*"It occurs in early annals of the N. W. under circumstances which lead me to 
believe it an entirely different word [from Latin Capra] of Indian origin." — Henry's 
Joum., 1897, P- 191- E. C. 

^ Quoted by Richardson, F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 262. 


210 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The ¥2im\\y Antilocapridce is unique/ It combines pecul- 
iarities of the giraffes, the goats, the Antelope, and the Deer. 
It consists of a single genus, Antilocapra (Ord, 1818), and this 
consists of one species, found only in North America. There- 
fore the characteristics of the animal are the characteristics of 
the genus and of the Family. 

The American Antelope is a ruminant, which, like the 
giraffe, has two hoofs on each foot; like the goat, it has a gall- 
bladder and a system of smell-glands; like the Deer, it has 4 
teats and a coat of hair, with an undercoat of wool; like the 
goat, it has hollow horns on a bony core, yet, as in the Deer, 
these horns are branched, and are shed each year. 

SIZE AND The largest buck Antelope in the Zoological Park, New 
York,^ stands 37J inches (952 mm.) at the shoulder; has a 
head and body length of 47I inches (1,213 mm.) ; tail, 3I inches 
(89 mm.), A fair-sized buck stands 36 inches (914 mm.) at 
the shoulder — the top of the head rising a foot higher — and 
weighs about 100 pounds. A four-months'-old buck which I 
weighed in Jackson's Hole in October, 1898, was 60 pounds, 
and stood 28 inches at the shoulder. A large one killed by 
E. S. Dodge, of Oracle, Ariz., weighed 125 pounds.® The 
females are smaller and lighter. 

COLOUR The colour of the adult male Antelope is a rich tan, 

varied with pure white patches, as shown, that is to say, the 
sides of face, nape of neck, base of ears, 2 bars on throat, breast, 
belly, rump, and inside of limbs are white. The upper part of 
the muzzle, the patch under each ear, the eyes, horns, hoofs, 
and sometimes the mane, are black. 

The female is similar in colour, but the black areas are 
less, and those under the ears are often lacking. Dr. W. 
T. Hornaday has a large male head also without these black 

^As these pages are in press, M. W. Lyon, Jr., of U. S. Nat. IMus., gives exce/- 
lent reasons for reducing this Family to a subfamily of Bovidae, with which it agrees in 
all important parts of its structure. See Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., No. 1619, Vol. 
XXXrV, Aug. II, 1908. 

^ W. T. Hornaday, Am. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 117. 

® Recreation Magazine, October, 1898, p. 307. 

Fig 95 — Antelope poses. 

Fig. 93 — An Antelope pose. 

3^ ^.fs^L 


(tj v^ 



Fig. 94 — Antelope poses. 

Fig. 96 — Tracks of large Antelope. 


212 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

side-patches. Occasionally specimens are seen with a distor- 
tion of the usual pattern on the throat, as though the stencil 
had been jarred when the work was half done. 

The young are at first grayish brown, darkening on the 
face, paling on the rump, and with faint suggestions of the 
adult colours and pattern, but are never spotted as in the Deer 
Family. They assume the adult colours toward the end of 
RACES Merriam has recently described' the Mexican Antelope as 

a new sub-species, mexicana, but this name is possibly ante- 
dated by Hamilton Smith's palmata; ^ this is a pale race. 

Dis- In that eventful anno domini IS^'C, when Jacques Cartier 

CO VERY w'v^w'^ ^ ^ J 

ascended the St. Lawrence to be the white discoverer of Hoche- 
laga (Montreal), Francisco Vasquez de Coronado also landed 
in Mexico and became a pioneer and an empire-builder of 
world-wide fame. Five years later he set forth on his memo- 
rable march northward as far, we now believe, as Kansas, dis- 
covering and possessing in the name of the Cross and the 
King. Without doubt he was the first white man to see the 
Antelope. Charles F. Lummis writes me that: 

"Coronado's expedition unquestionably saw Antelope; 
but there is no name and no definite description of them in his 
record. The nearest he comes to it is on the Buffalo plains, 
where Castaneda speaks of 'siervos, remendados de bianco' 
(the stags patched with white). Herrera mentions them under 
their proper name of Berrendos (Decade, II, p. 288, 1601). 
I do not recall any mention of them in Gomara." 

G. H. Gould calls my attention to the fact that near Zuni, 
Coronado saw what he calls goats. Undoubtedly they were 

In 1 651 Hernandez described^ this animal. He calls it 
Teuthlalma^ame or Temama(;ame; evidently these were the 
native Aztec names, and in the same paragraph he uses the 

'' Proc. Biol. Soc, Wash., April 5, 1901, p. 31. 
* Griflf. Cuvier, 1827, V, p. 323. 
'Nov. Hist., 165 1, pp. 324-5. 


Antilocapra americana (Ord.) 

Founded on the records of many early travellers and on my personal observations, with assistance from the maps published hy Dr. C. 
Hart Merriam, iqoi. Dr. \V. T. Hornaday, 1004, and some material in the possession of die Biological Survey, U. S. Dcpt. of Agriculture. 
The outer line shows the primitive range ; the tint shows the range in 1900, probably shrunken still more to-day (1909). 


214 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

name " Berendos/' by which it is yet known in Mexico. But 
it did not receive any scientific appellation until one hundred 
and sixty-four years later. 


RANGE Map 9 shows the Antelope to be by choice a crea- 

ture of the high and open plains, though in California and 
Texas it was originally found down nearly to sea level. Its 
preference is the flat country, yet it is often found on rolling 
or hilly lands, and occasionally in small parks or forest open- 
ings; its prime requisite being that its feet rest on hard, dry 

iNMANi- Formerly the Antelope abounded on the high prairies of 
south-western Manitoba, as attested by several old records: 

In the fall of 1801 A. Henry built a trading post at the 
mouth of Pembina River, near the present St. Vincent. Here 
he lived, traded, and scribbled for several years. His journal 
shows that Buffalo were abundant about the fort. The only 
mention he makes of Antelope is this:^" 

"November 15: An Indian brought me a large Cabbri 
which had four inches of fat on the rump." 

In 1806 Henry was travelling from Portage la Prairie, 
Manitoba, W. S. W., through the Brandon Hills, and says:'' 

"July 14. From the summits of these high barren hills 
we had delightful views. In some low spots were clusters of 
poplars; to the north we could see the Assiniboine, north of 
which we could trace the course of Rapid River [Little Sas- 
katchewan], which comes from Fort Dauphin Mountain 
[Riding Mountain]. Herds of Cabbrie or Jumping Deer were 
always in sight." 

He continued his journey S. S. W. across the Plains of the 
Souris into what is now Dakota, finding abundance of Buffalo, 
and records next day from near the Boundary, at a point 14 
miles south of Boss Hill, on the west bank of the Souris, close 

'"A. Henry's Journal, 1897, p. 191. " Ibid., p. 305. 

Prongbuck 215 

to Butte de Sable :^^ "Cabrie were in sight almost every 
moment, but so shy that we could not get a shot." 

The following day he wrote : ^^ 

"July i6: We saw numbers of Cabbrle of two different 
kinds, some [the bucks] almost as large as fallow Deer and 
others [the does] much smaller, red and white spotted; the 
latter had young, and did not appear so shy as those we 
had seen before. The young ones, sighting us, would run 
up to us within a few yards, while the dams would come 
on behind them with more caution, until their curiosity was 

These are all the very early mentions I can find of this 
animal in our limits. 

Antelope were never found along the low Red River, were 
rare even on the White Horse Plain, where, however. Captain 
John Schott of Athabaska Landing — then a boy of 14 — tells 
me he killed two in the spring of 1855. This is the only evi- 
dence I can find of Antelope anywhere near Winnipeg. In 
1852 Schott was with a number of Buffalo hunters on 
the Big Plain, near the site of Carberry, and there saw several 
bands of Antelope. But nowhere north of the Assiniboine 
were they plentiful as on the high prairies west of Pembina 

In 1858 Professor H. Y. Hind, travelHng from the United 
States Boundary on the west bank of the Souris, due north 
across the Plains of the Pipestone, records'^ for a point ap- 
parently 10 or 12 miles north of the Boundary: 

''July 4: We saw some herds of Cabri, and McKay suc- 
ceeded in killing a female." But his narration shows that they 
were very rare in the region. 

In 1874 Dr. E. Coues saw "a few Antelopes" along the 
Souris River, near the Boundary. ^^ 

J. T. Brondgeest, of Whitewater, Man., tells me that he 
first came to Whitewater in 1879, and settled down in the fall 

^^ Ibid., p. 306. " Loc. cit., p. 310-11. 

'* Assin. & Sask. Expl. Exped., 1859, p. 46. 

>' Birds Dak. & Mont., July 29, 1878, Bull. U. S. Geol. Surv., No. 3, Vol. IV, p. 547. 

216 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of 1880, and that in those days there were plenty of Antelope 
about. But the last he saw was killed by his father in 1881. 

In 1882, when I traversed that whole region, I neither saw 
nor heard of any Antelope, nor can I learn that they have ever 
been seen since. 
HOME My own experience with this animal has been chiefly on 

cALiTY the Plains of the Canadian River and in western Wyoming. I 
was there much struck by the smallness of the home locality 
that seemed to satisfy each band. A level stretch of open 
prairie two miles across seemed ample range for a herd of 
twenty throughout a whole season. If there was water on 
it they seemed satisfied to stay indefinitely. All the records 
I can find are of similar import. Thus: 

Dr. E. L. Munson, U.S. Army, says:^® "For some weeks a 
band of several hundred were in a large pasture 4 miles square, 
several miles from Havre, Montana." 

Dr. C. A. Canfield (of California) says:^^ "Any particular 
band of Antelope does not leave the locality where they grow 
up, and never range more than a few miles in difi^erent direc- 

W. N. Byers, of Denver, Col., tells me that for several 
years in Middle Park, Col., he used to see one particularly 
large buck Antelope near the road within a mile of the same 
place. He supposed it was there on account of a salt-lick near. 

It is a common remark that the Antelope when hunted 
runs in a circle. A little reflection will show that this is true 
of all animals, and that the circle is always around the region 
that the creature knows, namely, its own home locality; in this 
case but 3 or 4 miles across. 

During summer the bands are scattered, but the range of 
the individual is even smaller. I have seen an old Antelope 
that made her summer home on the flat top of a butte that was 
less than 200 acres in extent. The males seem to be less local 
at this time than the females, and, like bull Moose, commonly 
wander in twos. 

^ Forest and Stream, February, 1897, P- ^^4- 

" Caton, Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 43. 

Prongbuck 217 

But all this permanent residence of one spot seems to be migra- 
in regions where the winter is mild and the snow light. In the 
northern part of the range a different habit prevails. At the 
first heavy snow the Antelope of the Upper Jackson's Hole 
travel 150 miles southward to the Red Desert. Those on the 
prairies of the Saskatchewan move into the coulees and brakes, 
100 miles southward and westward. Those of the Plains near 
the Rockies go toward the foot-hills, and those on the open 
country about the Black Hills flock thither from all points of 
the compass. 

Edwin Carter tells me that the Antelope used to winter 
in vast numbers about Colorado Springs, and were common 
in the surrounding country all the rest of the year. 

As noted later. Major James B. Pond told me that during a 
blizzard in the winter of 1868-9 he saw the Antelope crowded 
in every sheltered valley along the railway line from Cheyenne 
to Denver. 

At Medicine Hat, Alberta, I was informed that a snow- 
storm in winter would concentrate the antelope in coulees and 
places of shelter. But these are temporary congregations, and, 
according to Dr. E. L. Munson, a few days of fine weather 
causes them to scatter again. He also remarks'^ that he *' found 
Antelope rare during the summer along the Sun River and the 
Teton, but reasonably plenty in winter." 

Richardson says:'** "Some of them remain the whole year 
on the South Branch of that river [Saskatchewan], but they are 
merely summer visitors to the North Branch [about 200 miles 
away]. They come every year to the neighbourhood of Carl- 
ton-house, when the snow has mostly gone, * * * and 
they retire to the southward again in the autumn as soon as 
the snow begins to fall." Then he adds an item which affords 
interesting light on the relentless process of developing a 
migratory instinct. "Almost every year [he says] a small herd 
lingers on a piece of rising ground not far from Carlton-house, 
until the snow has become too deep on the Plains to permit 
them to travel over them. Few, or none of that herd, however, 

'« Loc. cit. >» F. B. A., 1829, 1, p. 263. 

218 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

survive until the spring, as they are persecuted by the Wolves 
during the whole winter." 

From this we may conclude that the Antelope is a creature 
of small home locality, and a permanent resident there when 
climate and food-supply permit, as is the case in the southern 
part of its range. But in the colder, snowier regions it is driven 
to journey in search of better conditions; and though these 
movements are as often northward as southward, they are 
seasonal and somewhat regular, so that they are true migra- 

A curious stampede that took place during one of these 
movements is thus narrated"" by H. W. Skinner, Chicago: 

*' Early in the spring of 1890 a party consisting of two 
trappers and three prospectors, besides myself, were going up 
the western side of the Green River, in Wyoming, as rapidly 
as the melting of the snow would allow us to proceed. The 
wild animals were going up the river valley at the same time. 
Large bands of Antelope travelled parallel with us, and being 
unmolested (as for a number of days not a shot was fired), 
they would dash by within a hundred yards of us. We some- 
times stopped for two or three days at a time, waiting for the 
snow to melt sufficiently to allow us to go ahead. While mak- 
ing one of these stops we camped on a gentle slope facing the 
south-west. The snow had disappeared from the slope, but 
was still quite deep in the valley through which we were obliged 
to pass. As we lay quietly in our blankets one noon, taking 
turns at crawling under the wagon to get out of the intense heat 
of the sun, there suddenly came over the crest of the ridge north- 
east of us (the crest being not more than fifty yards distant) 
a band of Antelope numbering about 50. Being badly fright- 
ened by something, they dashed over the ridge, and were among 
us before we could spring to our feet. Probably half of the 
band ran directly through the camp. All tried to sheer off to 
the right, but the momentum and panic of the leaders were so 
great that they did not change their course quickly enough to 
avoid running over us. I do not know that any member of 

*" Letter, April 3, 1901. 


Prongbuck 219 

the party was actually struck by an Antelope. Some of the 
camp utensils were, as I remember the accompanying clatter, 
and a rifle that had been leaning against the wagon was knocked 
over and the stock broken. The entire affair was over in a 
very few seconds, of course. None of us recovered from our 
astonishment until the Antelope were far away." 

The accompanying map (p. 213) shows a surprisingly num- 
slight shrinkage in the range of the species — a shrinkage 
which, unfortunately, does not correspond with the actual 
reduction of its numbers. 

The ancient territory of the Pronghorns covered about 
2,000,000 square miles; and a safe estimate, founded on the 
reports of travellers, would be 10 Antelope to every square mile. 
The present range covers about 1,000,000 square miles. But 
who will say that there are 10,000,000 Antelope left .? If it be 
shown that there are 100,000 wild Antelope alive to-day I shall 
be agreeably surprised. At least half of them must be in 

These estimates are founded on many ancient and modern 
accounts, viewed in the light of my own experience. 

During early days in New Mexico (about 1892) we could 
usually reckon on seeing a band of a dozen or 20 Antelope on 
the open plains every 10 miles or so during the fall. The 
region that I knew, and rode in daily, was some 60 miles long 
by 5 wide. In this were 5 well-known bands of Antelope, each 
keeping its own home locality and each numbering about 20. 
This would give 100 Antelope to 300 square miles. But all the 
"old-timers" agreed that there were no Antelope in the country 
now. "Just an odd one here and there, and nothing to com- 
pare with the herds of the days gone by," they said. 

In those early times bands of 2,000 or 3,000 were seen 
commonly on the plains of California.-^ 

Charles H. Stonebridge, of New York, tells me that in the 
August of 1875, while crossing Wyoming, he saw daily from 

^' J. C. Hoxie, J. S. Drury, S. F. Dickenson, and many other Califomian pioneers in 
conversation at Bakersfield, Cal., October 3, 1899. 

220 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

500 to 3,000 Antelope in bands numbering 100 or 200 each. 
In April, 1879, they were just as plentiful in the same region, 
also in western Nebraska and in Utah. 

Similar testimony is borne by many travellers for the open 
country east of the Rockies. 

In the Dakota Badlands, during the early '8o's, they were 
still abundant. Howard Eaton tells me that in 1884 he saw 
there as many as 8,000 and 9,000 in a day. Even as late as 
1896 they abounded in Montana. Dr. Edward L. Munson, 
of the U. S. Army, gives credence to the report that in the great 
blizzard of December of that year "40,000 Antelope took 
shelter in the coulees along Milk River alone in Montana, near 
his post, Fort Assiniboin," and that between Havre and 
Glasgow (125 miles) a band of them might be seen every half 
mile." These probably were the Antelope population of a 
region a couple of hundred miles across concentrated in the 
sheltered valley. 

Had they been the entire population of that north end of 
the range, it would give about one Antelope to the square mile, 
but we have evidence of many other bands in the country, at 
least doubling the number; yet we know that Antelope were 
far from abundant then — in the old-time sense. 

W. N. Byers, of Denver, tells me that in 1868 he witnessed 
a Ute "surround" of Antelope in North Park, Col., where 
4,400 Antelope were killed. As the entire Park is 5,000 square 
miles, only a small part of it could have been driven, and, 
furthermore, many of those started escaped. We are safe, 
however, in putting the numbers as high as 3 Antelope per 
square mile. But the Park was not an ideal place for the 
species. The snows were too deep for a high rate of population. 
In the Yellowstone Park proper (3,000 square miles^ about one- 
third of it Antelope country) there were, according to official 
estimate, in 1896, 1,000 Antelope — that is, 3 to every square 
mile. Yet hunters considered them very scarce, and said that 
it would take 10 times as many (that is, 30 to the square mile) 
to make really "Antelope country." 

^^ Forest and Stream, January 2, 1897, p. 7. 

Prongbuck 221 

Major J. B. Pond once gave me an important item: "In 
the winter of 1868-9 ^ travelled on the railroad newly opened 
between Denver and Cheyenne. All the Antelope had left 
the open plains, and were now sheltering among the foot- 
hills. For 10 or 12 miles in Cache le Poudre valley and all the 
way west of the train, about | to | mile away, was one long 
band of Antelope, 20 to 40 rods wide, practically continuous 
and huddled together for warmth. Their numbers changed 
the colour of the country. That winter many wagon loads 
were brought to Denver and sold, 3 or 4 carcasses for 2 bits 
(25 cents), that being the smallest coin in use." 

If there is no error in these figures, it meant 2,000,000 
Antelope. This great concourse came from the Plains north 
and east. They would not have come from the west, because 
it was rugged mountainous country; nor from the south, be- 
cause of the storms; and it is extremely unlikely that they came 
from a greater distance than 200 miles. Reckoned by area, 
therefore, they represented about the fiftieth part of the Ante- 
lope population of America. If even we halved the estimated 
figures to avoid error, it would still give over 40,000,000 as the 
aggregate of Antelope on the range. At this time they must 
have outnumbered the Buffalo. 

From these various facts it will be seen that in many 
regions the species probably exceeded 10 to the square mile. 
Though there were vast areas which fell far below this, these 
were offset by the greater density elsewhere. Therefore, in 
estimating their pristine population at 10 to a square mile, I 
have been reasonably conservative. 

I hope I have been equally so in putting the 1900 popula- 
tion at 100,000. Since then their numbers have probably de- 
creased further. In some regions, I am told, there is a slight 
increase, but in others a sad diminution. A. A. Anderson esti- 
mated that in 1905 there was not more than a quarter of the 
Antelope in Wyoming that there were in 1900. 

It is fortunate that the nation has awakened to the fact 
that game is worth preserving, and that a national effort is 
needed to preserve it. All the States now have game laws for 


222 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the protection of Antelope. Some of them have even declared 
a close season for a term of years. It is probable, therefore, 
that we may yet keep the Pronghorn from going the way of 
the wild pigeon and the Buffalo. 

HORNS The horns are perhaps the most remarkable feature of 

this remarkable animal. Though true horns like those of a 
cow or goat, they are yet branched in shape, and shed each year 
like the antlers of a Deer. This last fact was first announced 

by Rufus B. Sage, who 
wrote, about 1841, of the 
Antelope:^' "The male, 
however, is equipped with 
hook-shaped antlers, ebony 
coloured, and 6 or 8 inches 

Fig. p7— Diagram of buck Antelope's horns in his four 1^1 lengtll, WniCll lie SneClS 

successive autumns. ii • ,i ,i _r 

annually m the months ot 

The black part is the new horn coming inside. "^ 

November and Decem- 
ber." Dr. C. A. Canfield, of Monterey, Cal., made the dis- 
covery independently in 1858.'* 

Judge Caton investigated-^ the growth of horns in detail. 
His observations show that the male Antelope has, at birth, a 
little bump over each eye. At four months old (that is, at the 
end of September) this breaks through the skin as a small and 
somewhat movable horn. In January, usually when about 
an inch long, this is dropped or pushed off by the new horn 
growing below it, on the top of the bony core, which also grows 
rapidly, so that in a couple of months the whole horn is about 
3 inches long. The next year the shedding takes place earlier, 
but the bony core (now much bigger, of course) remains. 
The prong is developed above the bony core. 

Old bucks shed in October — that is, immediately after 
the rut. They have an advantage over members of the Deer 
tribe in one particular — a Deer is hornless for some time after 

« Rocky Mt. Life, 1857, p. 56. 

^* Pub. in Proc. Smith. Inst., 1866. See Caton, Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, 
p. 26. 

^^ Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, pp. 25-35. 

Prongbuck 223 

shedding the antler, but an Antelope's new horn is already well 
sprouted before the old one is dropped. The outlines shown 
in Fig. 97 may be considered as diagrammatic expression of 
the horn development. Actual horns in series like those of 
the Wapiti (p. 57) are not at hand. 

It is well known that true horn is theoretically a mass 
of consolidated hairs, but the whole process of hair-growth, 
the consolidation into horn, and the actual shedding (as with 
the hair of the coat) are all visibly demonstrated in the horn 
of this unique animal. 

It seems that the larger and lustier the individual the 
sooner his weapons are shed. W. R. McFadden, of Denver, 
tells me that early in the fall of 1894, while shooting on the 
Elkhead River of Colorado, he fired at a buck Antelope that 
had unusually large fine horns. It ran some 20 yards and fell 
dead. On coming up he was disappointed to find that it had 
for horns only a pair of miserable little spikes. The puzzle 
was explained when he found both of its other horns, a large 
pair, lying on the ground where it fell. Evidently it had been 
at the point of shedding these when shot at. 

The female yearling shows little points of horn. These 
never exceed 2 or 3 inches in length. 

Horns of the normal type are shown in the first figure in 
Plate XIV, and the number of variations from this is small. 
The largest pair that I can find on record'^ (I have not seen 
them) are in the possession of E. S. Dodge, of Arcadia Ranch, 
Ariz., who shot the creature near Oracle, Ariz., October 22, 
1897. These are given as follows: 


Length of left horn around curve lyi 

Length of right horn around curve 17I 

Spread of horns at tip 51 

Spread at widest part ir 

Girth of left horn at base 6\ 

Girth of right horn at base 61 

Girth of horn at largest place . , . . loi 

** Recreation, October, 1898. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

These horns are of exceptional size. As Dr. W. T. Horn- 
aday remarks :" *' Any measuring 1 2 inches may fairly be con- 
sidered large/' 

The only "freak" type that is often seen is that known 
as the "droopers." An example is shown in Fig. 98. 
Such disfigurements are probably the result of accident in 
early life. But obviously the buck with *'droopers" once will 

always have them, as the 
fundamental horn cores 
themselves are abnormal. 

Long ago Darwin con- 
fessed himself puzzled^* by 
the form of the Spring-bok's 
horn, inasmuch as the in- 
curve of the points appar- 
ently rendered them useless 
for attack. It seems as 
though a simple straight 
spike would be much more 
effective. The in-curved 
point and its half-way snag seem like buttons on the rapier, 
like efforts to disarm the well-armed knight while leaving 
him in possession of his weapons. But many observations 
made on the Antelope in the Washington Zoo Park, while 
I was painting their portraits, showed me how true it is that not 
the smallest detail in nature is without distinct purpose, for 
which it has been carefully adapted through ages of experi- 
ment. I learned that the prong — so far from being a button 
on the rapier — is a hilt that protects the bare flesh farther up, 
as described later (see p. 244). In short, the recurved point 
enables the buck to strike his adversary in the throat, where 
the skin is thinnest. 

Fig. 98 — Antelope with drooping horns. 

From photoj^raph in Recreation, June, 1897, by W. H. R., who 
gut them at Uaramie, Wyomingf, in 1893. 


Another remarkable detail of the Antelope's anatomy is 
the white area on each buttock. This seems at first like the 
rest of his spots — a mere patch of white coat; but it is found 

''Am. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 117. '* Descent of Man, Vol. II., p. 239. 



(Photograph by G. G. Seton.) 



(Photograph by G. G. Seton.) 






.^ Y. 





Prongbuck 225 

to be specialized for an important service. It is composed of 
hair graded from short in the centre, to long at the front edges. 
Under the skin of the part is a circular muscle by means of 
which the hair can, in a moment, be raised and spread radially 
into two great blooming twin chrysanthemums, more or less 
flattened at the centre.* When this is done in the bright sun- 
light they shine like tin pans, giving flashes of light that can be 
seen farther than the animal itself, affording a conspicuous 
identification mark that must be of great service to the species. 

Many years ago, while riding across the upland prairies of 
the Yellowstone, I noticed certain white specks in the far 
distance. They showed and disappeared several times, and 
began moving southward. Then, in another direction, I dis- 
covered other white flecks, which also seemed to flash and dis- 
appear. A glass showed them to be Antelope, but without 
wholly explaining the flashing or the moving, which ultimately 
united the two bands. I made a note of the fact, but did not 
understand it until the opportunity came to study Antelope in 
the Washington Zoo. I had been quietly watching the grazing 
herd on the hillside for some time; in fact, I was sketching, 
which affords an admirable opportunity for watching animals 
a long time minutely. I was so quiet that they seemed to have 
forgotten me, when, contrary to rules, a dog chanced into the 
Park. The wild Antelope has a habit of raising its head every 
few minutes while grazing, in order to keep a sharp lookout 
for danger, and these captives maintained the tradition of their 
race. The first that did so saw the dog. It uttered no sound, 
but gazed at the wolfish-looking intruder, and all the long white 
hairs of the rump-patch were raised with a jerk that made the 
patch flash in the sun. Each grazing Antelope saw the flash, 
repeated it instantly, and raised his head to gaze in the direction 
where the first was looking. At the same time I noticed on the 
wind a peculiar musky smell — a smell that certainly came from 
the Antelope — and was no doubt an additional warning. 

Some time later I had opportunity to make a careful dis- 
section of the Antelope's rump-patch, and the keystone to the 
arch of facts was supplied. My specimen, taken in Jackson's 

226 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Hole, was a male under six months old, so that all the propor- 
tions, and indeed the character, were much less developed than 
in the adult. (Fig. 99.) 

The fresh skin was laid flat on a board, and then the 
pattern and mechanism of the rump-natch were clearly seen. 
The hairs at the upper part of the patch (A) were about 4 inches 
long, grading to the centre (B), and the lower parts, where they 
were under 2 inches long, all snowy white and normally lying 
down flat, pointing toward the rear. At 
the point (B), among the roots of the hair, 
was a gland secreting a fluid having a 
strong musky smell. On the under side of 
the skin was a broad sheet of muscular 
fibres, which were thickest around B; they 
have power to change the direction of the 
hair, so that all below B stands out, and 
Fig. g^skin of crupper-discs. hII above is dircctcd forward. 
At AA the hair was about four inches It sccms, thcrcforc, that as soott as an 

long ; at and below BB less than ' ' 

two inchei ; at CCC. between the A ^ 1 >. 

two patches, it was one-quarter Autelopc sccs some straugc pcrsotts or 

inch long. * ox 

threatening object, this muscle acts, and 
the rump-patch is instantly changed into a great double disk 
of white that shines afar like a patch of snow. Further, in the 
middle of each disk is exposed a brown spot (the musk-gland), 
from which a quantity of the musk odour is set free, and its 
message is read by those who have noses to read. 

Of all animals man has the poorest nose. He has virtually 
lost the sense of smell, while, among the animals next in the 
scale, scent is their best faculty. Yet even man can distinguish 
this danger-scent for 20 or 30 yards down the wind, and there 
is every reason to believe that another Antelope can detect it 
a mile away. 

Observations on captive animals have thus afforded the 
key to those made on the Plains. I know now that the flashing 
flecks seen on the Yellowstone uplands were the interchanging 
signals of the two bands, the smaller of which, on getting the 
musky message, "Friends," had laid aside their fears and 
joined their kindred. This, it will be seen, is simply a helio- 

Prongbuck 227 

graph. Man flatters himself that he was the first inventor of 
flash communication, but he is wrong — the Antelope used it 
thousands of generations before it was dreamed of by mankind. 
The bristling mane of the species is erected under excite- 
ment at the same time with the disks. 

Many animals are furnished with glands that produce a glands 
strong-smelling stuff that serves in some cases as a defence, but 
mostly as a method of intercommunication. A peccary has a 
scent-gland on its back, a Deer has one in each foot and on 
the hock; a goat has several about the head. The Antelope 
has every one of these various smellers, each tainting the ad- 
joining air in a way of its own, and doubtless for a purpose that 
none other could answer. 

There are numerous theories as to the purpose of the 
glandular system. Judge Caton thinks that these many pun- 
gent odours help to protect the Antelope from flies and 
mosquitoes, but it seems more likely that their chief service 
is for intercommunication. 

The glands on the jaw seem related to the sexual sys- 
tem, as they are largest in the buck and most active in rutting 
time; those on the rump, as seen, have a place in the helio- 
graphic system; and the purpose of the others, though not yet 
understood, is almost certainly to serve in conveying the news. 

How can they do so .? As possible answer to this, rather 
than as ascertained fact, I suggest that an Antelope passes 
along a certain olain, eating at one place, drinking at another, 
lying down in a third, being pursued by a Wolf for half a mile, 
when the Wolf gives up the unequal race, and the Antelope 
escapes at his ease. A second Antelope comes along. For 
him the foot-scent from the interdigital glands marks the 
course taken by his fellow as clearly as the track in the snow 
would do for us. Its strength tells him somewhat of the time 
elapsed since it was made, and its individuality shows whether 
his predecessor was a stranger or a personal friend just as 
surely as a dog can tell his master's track. Again, the hock- 
scent exuded on the plants or ground where the first animal 

228 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

laid down informs the second one of the action. At the place 
where the Wolf was sighted the sudden diffusion of the rump- 
musk on the surrounding sage-brush will be perceptible to the 
newcomer for hours afterward; and the cause of it will be made 
clear when the Wolf trail is detected. This may sound a far- 
fetched tale of Sherlock Holmes among the Beasts, but not so, 
if we remember that in these animals their sight faculty is at 
least as good as ours; that their scent faculty is of still greater 
value to them; and finally, if all this had been recorded in the 
snow, we also could have read it with absolute precision. 

The uniform of the species is itself an important means 
of intercommunication. Its conspicuous colouring labels the 
creature afar that this is surely an Antelope, for information 
of friend or foe. Thus one realizes that it is useless to follow, 
and the other that it is needless to flee. 

It is interesting to note that the Antelope's tail does not 
count in its code of expression, although in the Whitetailed 
Deer — which is not furnished with the discograph — the tail 
is greatly developed and specialized as a means of communica- 
tion. Parallel cases are the Wapiti, whose tail is inert, but 
whose crupper-patch is very active, and the Moose, whose tail 
is a dummy, or sleeping member of the firm, but whose hip on 
each side is furnished with an erectible patch that seems to 
serve the purpose of expression. 

VOICE The sound oftenest heard from the Antelope is a querulous, 

grunting bleat, uttered by the mother when she is calling to the 
kid. The adult has also a sort of shrill whistle or snort — used 
as an alarm and a short bark of curiosity. The kid utters a 
bleat or squeak, but most of their signaUing is done by appeals 
to the eye and nose. 

EYE The eye of the Antelope is of marvellous beauty and mag- 

nitude, "larger than that of any other quadruped of its size," 
as Caton says ^^ — and there is every evidence that it is as keen 
as it is beautiful. This is readily understood in relation to the 

^' Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 24. 

Prongbuck 229 

fact that it is a creature of the open, where its eyes are more 
often serviceable to it than its ears, or even than its nose, and 
that the majority of its signals, unlike those of woodland ani- 
mals, are dependent upon vision for their success. 

In obvious relation to the full expressive eye is the inter- 
esting habit recorded by Judge Caton:^*^ 

"Our Antelope [he says] has the faculty of weeping when 
in affliction. I first observed this in a specimen which had 
been taken wild when adult, and still retained all his natural 
fear of man. I had placed him in a close cage in the evening, 
intending to familiarize him with my presence, and divest him 
of his fears when he saw me by convincing him that I would 
not hurt him. When I approached him the next morning he 
seemed struck with terror, and made frantic efforts to break out, 
which he soon found was impossible. His great black eye glis- 
tened in affright. I spoke softly and kindly, while he stood trem- 
bling as I introduced my hand and placed it on his shoulder. 
Despair now seemed to possess him, and he dropped on his 
knees, bowed his head on the ground, and burst into a copious 
flood of tears, which coursed down his cheeks and wet the floor! 
My sensibilities were touched, my sympathies were awakened, 
and I liberated him from that cage as quickly as I could tear 
the slats from one of the sides. Whether he appreciated this 
or not I cannot say, but his great fear seemed to leave him as 
soon as he was liberated; he ran but a little way and not at full 
speed, when he stopped and began to pick the grass." 

The Prongbuck is the only horned ruminant in North feet 
America that has but two hoofs on each foot. Nature's eco- 
nomic plan has been to remove all parts that cease to be of use, 
and so save the expense of growing and maintaining them. 
Thus man is losing his back or wisdom teeth, since civilized 
diet is rendering them superfluous. Ancestors of the Ante- 
lope had four hoofs to the foot, like the Deer or the pig, but 
the back pair on each have been dropped. At an earlier 
period the common ancestor of the Antelope and Deer had five 

^ Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 46. 

230 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

well-developed toes on each extremity, but it seems that while 
this makes an admirable foot for wading in treacherous 
swamps, it is, for mechanical reasons, a slow foot; the fewer 
the toes the greater the speed. The Deer living in swamps 
could not afford to dispense with the useful little hind or 
mud-hoofs, and retain them still for bog use, though much 
modified from the original equal-toed type, more nearly 
shown in the pig. But the Antelope, living on the hard, dry 
uplands, had no use for bog-trotters, and exchanged them for 
a higher rate of speed, so that it now has only two toes 
on each foot. The Horse Family went yet further. They 
shunned the very neighbourhood of swamps; all their life was 
spent on the firm, dry, level country; speed and sound feet 
were their holds on existence; and these they maintained 
at their highest pitch by adopting a foot with a single hoof- 
clad toe. 

SPEED Coronado and his contemporaries, when they discovered 

the Antelope, were too busy adding to the spiritual Kingdom 
of their Masters, in consideration of the material plunder 
thereof, to bestow a second thought on this wonderful wild 
thing. It remained for Lewis and Clark,^^ two hundred and 
seventy years later, to give the world detailed information about 
the Pronghorn of the Plains. 

They comment with wonder on its great strength and its 
great weakness — that is, on its speed, which has given it first 
place for swiftness among the four-foots of America, and its 
inordinate curiosity, that has so often rendered its speed of no 

Concerning its gait, Audubon and Bachman say: ^^ "Their 
walk is a slow and somewhat pompous gait, their trot elegant 
and graceful, and their gallop or "run" light and inconceivably 
swift; they pass along, up or down hills or along the level plain, 
with the same apparent ease, while so rapidly do their legs 
perform their graceful movements in propelling their bodies 
over the ground that, like the spokes of a fast-turning wheel, 

" Journal. Biddle edition, 1S14, Vol. I, p. 122 et seq. '^ Quad. N. A., Vol. II, p. 198. 

Prongbuck 231 

we can hardly see them, but, instead, observe a gauzy or film- 
Hke appearance where they should be visible." 

Hornaday says:^^ "In running it has three very distinct 
gaits. When fleeing from danger it carries its head low like 
a running sheep, and gallops by long leaps; when showing off 
it holds its head as high as possible and trots. * * * Oc- 
casionally it gallops with high head, by stiff-legged leaps like 
the Mule-deer." 

Why does the Antelope occasionally make these high, but 
slightly progressive, bounds .? Undoubtedly for the same reason 
as the Jack-rabbit makes a "spy hop." They are to give it a 
momentary high outlook whence it can scan the surroundings 
and look for danger. 

I have gathered many observations on the speed of certain 
quadrupeds and have arrived at a scale, which, however, I 
submit with much hesitation. Of course we have no actual 
gauge on the speed of the wild creatures, and must reach it by 
various devices and comparisons, eliminating guesses. The 
estimates of hunters, etc., are always too high; besides, it is 
a misleading fact that of two animals going at the same rate 
the smaller always appears to be going the faster. 

It is safe to say that the horse, the ancient standard of 
speed, still holds its own. There seems no good reason for 
supposing that any creature on legs — two, three, or four — ever 
went for any distance faster than a blood race-horse. Salvator's 
mile in i minute 35I seconds is, the fastest pace reliably re- 
corded for anything afoot.^* 

On the uplands of Mexico, in 1892 and 1893, I several 
times saw my hunting comrade, William Allen, on his favourite 
horse "Spider," ride into a bunch of Antelope going their best 
and with everything in their favour. "Spider" was locally 
known as a racer, although only a quarter-blood. 

On the Little Missouri I saw some first-class greyhounds 

^^Am. Nat. Hist., 1904, p. 117. 

'^ My authority is Samuel W. Taylor, Editor of the Rider and Driver, New York; 
the record is Salvator, 4,110, Monmouth Park, N. J., U. S. A., August 28, 1890. 

232 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

overtake a Mule-deer on the level, but fail utterly when it came 
to a buck Antelope. These same dogs could catch a Coyote 
in a very short race. 

Captain R. B. Marcy says: ^^ **We have had several good 
opportunities since we have been upon the plains of witnessing 
the relative speed of the different animals found here, and our 
observations have confirmed the opinion I have before 
advanced. For example, the greyhounds have, upon several 
different occasions, run down and captured the Deer and the 
Prairie-rabbits, which are also considered very fleet; but 
although they have had very many races with the Antelope 
under favourable circumstances, yet they have never, in one 
instance, been able to overtake them; on the contrary, the 
longer the chase has continued the greater has been the dis- 
tance between them. The Cervus virginianus (our Red-deer) 
has generally been considered the fleetest animal upon the 
continent after the horse, but the Antilocapra americana, or 
Pronghorned Antelope of the plains, is very much swifter." 

Greyhounds have doubtless caught many Antelope in 
open chase, but one greyhound cannot catch a full-grown, 
unwounded buck Antelope by fair running.^^ As Governor 
St. John, of Kansas, said to Buffalo Jones after much experi- 
ence, "It takes a mighty good greyhound to catch a mighty 
poor Antelope."" 

I have often heard railroad men tell of races between 
trains and Antelope. When running at the ordinary rate of 
25 or 30 miles an hour the engine could not pass these fleet 
coursers, but when the engineers put on all speed, so as to run at 
a 35-mile rate, the train forged ahead — and in a mile or so the 
Antelope turned aside and gave it up, disgusted to find that at 
last there was something on the plains that could outrun them. 

'^Exped. Red River, 1854, p. 62. 

^* Since this was written Dr. G. B. Grinnell tells me that in 1873 "Gibbon," a phe- 
nomenal greyhound belonging to General Stanley, did on 22 occasions, in fair race, catch 
unwounded Antelope, some of which were bucks. And Colonel W. P. Evans, nth Inf. 
U. S. A., writes me, November 28, 1907, that Colonel Gardiner had a bitch greyhound, 
which he saw catch a fine buck Antelope in 1878, near Fort Dodge, Kan. She had 
several others to her credit, but was undoubtedly a very unusual hound. 

^^ Buff. Jones Advt., 1899, p. 194. 

(Drawing originally published in Recreation). 

Prongbuck 233 

I have computed the speed of many other animals by 
counting their bounds to the minute and then afterward meas- 
uring those bounds in the snow. On others I have made a 
number of comparative observations from railways, trains, and 
motor-cars going at a known speed. Above all, I have always 
kept in mind the fact, when on record, that such can catch 
so-and-so, in a fair race. The mineralogists make a scale of 
hardness, on units, each of which can scratch the one below it, 
and be scratched by the one above. I have acted on this plan 
in making my scale of swiftness, only for "scratch" I read 

In general, I have found that the wild animals are less 
swift than is commonly supposed, and that their strong point 
is the quickness with which they can get up speed. Their 
"muzzle velocity" is indeed a matter of life and death; for 
most predaceous creatures, especially the cats, give up the 
chase at once if they fail on the first dash. Furthermore, I 
have been continually impressed by the smallness of difference 
in their speed. The few seconds that one animal saves in 
making its mile is evidently of vital importance. The scale I 
have attempted is founded on the animal's best rate for a mile. 
A rate that is representative has been chosen, rather than the 
phenomenal or the highest record of each species. 

Thus the best horse record for a mile is at the rate of over 
36 miles an hour. I prefer, however, to set the horse at 34 
miles an hour, as many horses attain this rate. 

Race-horse Best speed for a mile is at the rate of 34 miles per hour 

Pronghorned Antelope " " " " 32 

Greyhound " " " 3*-' 

Texan Jack-rabbit " " " " 28 

Common Fox " " " " 26 

Northern Coyote " " " " 24 

Jboxhound 22 

American Grey-wolf " " " " 20 

In this connection it is interesting to note that the best 
speed of a man for 100 yards is 9I seconds, which is at the rate 
of 21 J miles an hour. A man's best speed for a mile is 4 

234 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

minutes I2| seconds, or at the rate of 14 miles an hour. An 
ordinary runner makes a mile in 5 minutes (/. e., at the rate 
of 12 miles an hour), so that what actually counts in the race 
is, as usual, the trifle more speed that each animal can command. 
All travellers and hunters agree that the Antelope can 
cover an astounding distance in a single leap, but none of them 
tell us what they mean by ** astounding," whether 15 feet or 50, 
and this still remains to be ascertained. Judge Caton, how- 
ever, points out ^^ that their leaping power is almost restricted 
to the horizontal. They are so essentially creatures of the 
open plains, and so unaccustomed to high jumping, that a 
four- foot fence was found enough to confine them. 

cuRi- This animal is credited with uncontrollable curiosity. 

In the old days of Lewis and Clark the recognized method of 
"tolling" Antelope within shot was to wave a handkerchief on 
a stick in their plain view, the gunner himself remaining con- 
cealed, and usually, after much doubt and many circlings, the 
herd ventured within range. 

In early days, we are told by many travellers, any unusual 
object was enough to attract the Antelope. But in later times 
they learned wisdom. On the plains of New Mexico, I never 
could "toll" Antelope, nor did I hear of any one in that coun- 
try who had succeeded recently. In fact, the local hunters 
maintained that it was "played out" — the Antelope were too 
wary now to be taken in. 

Colonel Roosevelt makes a similar observation for the 
Antelope of the Little Missouri region: 

"In the old days [he says^^], it was often possible to lure 
them toward the hunter by waving a red handkerchief to and 
fro on a stick, or even by lying on one's back and kicking the 
legs. Nowadays, however, there are very few localities indeed 
in which they are sufficiently unsophisticated to make it worth 
while trying these time-honoured tricks of the long-vanished 
trappers and hunters." 

'^Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, pp. 47-48. 
^* Deer Family, 1903, p. 106. 

Prongbuck 235 

The Antelope is a creature of the dry plains, the land of foods 
grass, cactus, and sage, and its food is by long habit confined 
to these species of plants. Judge Caton could not induce his 
captive specimens to touch twigs, browse, or leaves. They 
would eat grain and fresh bread, but rejected fruit and acorns. 
"They are fond of common salt [he says*''], and should have it 
always by them when in parks; and if soda be mixed with it, 
no doubt, it would be better for them, for their native plains 
generally abound with crude or sulphate of sodium, and long 
use may make this better for them than in the form of the 
chloride; at least it is worth the trial by those who have pet 

Once every day during the hours of sunheat the Antelope drink 
cautiously wend their way to some familiar pond, spring or 
stream. There they drink copiously, for they seem to need 
much water. Nevertheless, those who are familiar with the 
arid region of the continent will see at a glance that the map 
(p. 213) includes as Antelope range vast areas that are without 
water during the greater part of the year. How, then, do the 
Antelope live there? The answer is simple: These regions 
are provided with vegetation that has the power of storing up 
water for its own use — that can, during the few showers of 
winter, lay up enough moisture to carry it over the whole year; 
and chief among these provident plants are the great bulging 
cactuses. Each is a living tank charged with fluid so precious 
that it must perforce wear a bodyguard of poisonous bayonets 
to keep back the horde of wayfarers so ready to slake their 
thirst at the cactus's expense. In these the Antelope finds its 
desert springs. T. S. Vandyke, who first called my attention 
to this fact, says: 

"On the arid plains of Lerdo, in Mexico, where I hunted 
in 1884, the Deer and Antelope do not drink. The proof is 
conclusive to my mind. I know that the only water for 40 
miles was a little pool less than 200 feet across, that was only a 
quarter of a mile from my camp. Whitetail, Mule-deer, and 

*° Loc. ciL, p. 42. 

236 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Antelope abounded in all that region, yet the mud on the banks 
never showed a sign of one coming there to drink. It seems 
that the fleshy leaves of the abundant cactus supply them 
both with food and drink/* 

E. H. Wuerpel, the well-known artist of St. Louis, writes 
me similarly (March 30, 1901): 

"When I lived in Mexico, six years ago, Antelope were 
still abundant on the upland plains as far south as Coahuila. 
There is no water in the region they inhabit, but they find the 
cactus leaves supply enough moisture." 

But what about the spines that are supposed to be the 
sufficient defence of these vegetable cisterns .? Wuerpel writes 
further: ''While crossing the region with oxen, we used to 
burn the spines off the cactus and feed it to the cattle, and they 
suffered no inconvenience for lack of water, although without 
it for perhaps two days at a time." 

But how do the Antelope utilize them without the kindly 
help of the fire-maker ? Some interesting light on this point 
has been supplied me by G. B. Winton, of Nashville, Tenn., 
who points out that not only cactus leaves, roots, and fruit are 
eaten, but also those of numerous other species of desert plants 
that store up water in their tissues. Many of these are nearly 
spineless; *' others have the tufts of spines so wide apart that 
a goat or a Deer may insert his muzzle between and get a good 
bite, though a cow could not; others have soft spines, especially 
where the leaf is new." 

Thus the desert plants afford both food and drink to the 
desert creatures. 

DOMESTi- If captured when fully adult, Antelope are usually irre- 

CATION . J ' i J 

claimable. But, taken when a few days old, they are the most 
tameable of our horned creatures. 

They are, however, extremely delicate at this age, and 
difficult to bring up, though J. H. G. Bray, of Medicine Hat, 
tells me that he has had good success with them, and reared 
many Antelope kids by feeding them on cow's milk, one-third 
water, and a little sugar, giving them many feedings a day. 

Prongbuck 237 

Even when fully grown they are not hardy and rarely live 
long in confinement. Fatal enteritis seems to be the usual 
cause of death. 

The worst enemies of the wild Antelope are, first, repeating enemies 
rifles; and next, sheep, which destroy their winter range. But 
Coyotes, Wolves, and eagles kill many, especially kids. 

The adult Antelope is rarely attacked by eagles. The 
only case I ever heard of first-hand was related by Harry J. 
Wells, of Clayton, New Mexico. Coyotes are to be feared 
chiefly when so hard pressed by hunger that they organize a 
hunt with a system of relays, and thus run down the quarry 
that is so much swifter than themselves. But they kill num- 
bers of the little ones before they are able to follow the mother. 

On its extreme northern range the Antelope has another 
dreaded enemy whose occasional ravages are thus commented 
on by Dr. E. L. Munson.'' *'Mr. Parotti has been in this 
country as hunter and guide for nearly twenty years. He tells 
me that the fearful winter of 1893, when the thermometer regis- 
tered 61 degrees below in this post [Fort Assiniboin, Mont.], 
killed off four-fifths of the Antelope — that they starved to death 
by thousands on account of the deep snow. He found, after 
that winter, what he estimated were 900 carcasses where the 
Antelope had drifted into a deep ravine and evidently had no 
strength to get out. Before that time Antelope were plenty 
through here, but that winter killed nearly all off. While they 
were shot by thousands, the number so destroyed was only an 
insignificant fraction of the total." 

Domesticated Antelope in parks are very subject to fatal disease 
enteritis, as stated above, a consequence no doubt of improper 
food. But the wild Antelope also have visitations of deadly 
disorders. Concerning the most destructive of those on record, 
Dr. J. A. Allen says:'- 

" During the summer of 1873 a fatal epidemic raged among 
the Pronghorns over nearly the whole area between the Yellow- 

*'■ Forest and Stream, March 27, 1897, P- 244- 

^'Nat. Hist. Mont. & Dakota, Proc. Bos. Soc. Nat. Hist., June, 1874, p. 40. 

238 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

stone and Missouri Rivers, destroying apparently three-fourths 
to nine-tenths of them. The greatest fatahty seems to have oc- 
curred in July, judging from the size of the fawns found dead, 
and hence not long after we crossed this portion of the country. 
From the head of Heart River to the Missouri we found their 
carcasses, on our return, thickly scattered along our hne of 
march, including those of both sexes and all ages, fawns being 
often found lying within a few yards of their dams. On our way 
out Antelope were almost constantly in sight, but on our return 
they were only rarely met with, ten dead ones being seen to each 
living one. The epidemic seems not to have extended beyond 
the Yellowstone, where they seemed more numerous on our re- 
turn than on our way out, and where no dead ones were observed. 

"The previous year they are reported to have ranged over 
this section of the country, in autumn, in very large numbers, 
bands of two or three hundred being sometimes met with by 
the Yellowstone Expedition of 1872, on its return eastward. 
Four were captured by the men as the frightened animals 
attempted to run through the train. 

'^Epidemics similar to that affecting the Pronghorns are well 
known to occasionally affect Deer, Rabbits, and Field-mice." 

LIFE During the winter the Antelope live in mixed bands of all 

ages and sizes. Nowadays these bands are commonly 10 to 
50 in number, but in earlier days, I am told, several hundred, 
even thousands, would run together. 

Early in the spring the usual inevitable disposition to 
scatter manifests itself. The separation of the sexes seems to 
be due to an instinctive dislike of each other, as the time ap- 
proaches for the young to be born. It becomes yet stronger as 
the hour draws near. At that time each female strives to be 
utterly alone. She avoids even the few remaining companions 
of her own sex, and retires to some secluded spot. 

YOUNG Parturition takes place in late May or early June, on the 

Yellowstone, but may be earlier farther south. The fawns 
or kids are commonly 2 in number. Their mother hides them 
close together for several days, visiting them at frequent inter- 

Prongbuck 239 

vals, ceaselessly scanning air and plain for signs of danger, and 
never going far away, except, perhaps, when forced to 'seek 
water— a necessary absence which she cuts as short as possible. 
At all times the squeak of a kid will bring her back at reckless 
speed, with blazing eye and bristling hair, ready to fight to the 
death any ordinary foe, or (if it be one too strong to fight) to 
intercept and mislead him, by every device the mother wit 
can brmg to bear. There are not many creatures native to the 
plams that she will not face in such a case. As Colonel 
Roosevelt says:« *'A doe will fight most gallantly for her 
fawn, and is an overmatch for a single Coyote, but of course 
she can do little against a large Wolf." 

Audubon and Bachman say: " ''Sometimes, however, the 
Wolves [Coyotes] discover and attack the young when they are 
too feeble to escape, and the mother then displays the most 
devoted courage in their defence. She rushes on them, butting 
and striking with her short horns, and sometimes tosses a 
Wolf heels over head; she also uses her forefeet, with which 
she deals severe blows, and if the Wolves are not in strong 
force or desperate with hunger, puts them to flight, and then 
seeks with her young a safer pasturage, or some almost inac- 
cessible rocky hillside." 

It seems likely that few Antelope kids are killed by their 
natural enemies, except such as are surprised during the brief 
absences of the devoted mother. 

This is a danger inseparable from polygamy. If the 
Antelope had developed monogamy, the young would have 
two adults to protect them; at least one would likely be near 
at all times, and the superior prowess of the buck might even 
have eliminated the chief danger of their young lives. 

Audubon, during his visit to the far West in 1843, had 
many opportunities of observing the young after they were old 
enough to follow the mother. This they do, he says, when 
they are a fortnight old, and he describes with happy enthu- 
siasm the nursing of a kid at this age: '^ 

1 J^f Family, 1903, p. m. « q n. a, 1849, Vol. II, p. 197. 

Iota., p. 199. 

240 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

*'We had the gratification of seeing an old female, in a 
flock of eight or ten Antelope, suckling its young. The little 
beauty performed this operation precisely in the manner of our 
common lambs, almost kneeling down, bending its head up- 
ward, its rump elevated, it thumped the bag of its mother from 
time to time, and reminded us of far distant scenes where peace- 
ful flocks feed and repose under the safeguard of our race/' 

The kids, though strong enough to follow the mother, are 
yet ready, at her signal, to hide when danger threatens, and the 
marvellous way in which they "play dead" is most inspiring. 

On June 13, 1897, I rode to the top of Junction Butte, in 
Yellowstone Park. As my head rose above the level I caught 
sight of a female Antelope walking along, followed by a smaller 
animal, that turned out to be her kid. Very soon the mother 
saw me and communicated her alarm to the young one, which 
dropped at once to the ground. Just how she ordered him to 
hide I cannot tell. I am satisfied that he did not see the 
danger. She may have grunted, but I am inclined to think 
that the danger signal was a flash of her crupper-disks. As 
soon as he had dropped she ran off^ to one side, uttering the 
loud, grunting bleat of the species. Evidently she was trying 
to decoy me away, but I rode straight to where the young one 
had dropped, and found him crouching flat on the bare ground, 
and yet so well-concealed by his protective colour and his 
stillness, that had I not marked him down, I never should have 
found him. I rode around him and spent some twenty minutes 
making the sketch, which, finished afterward, appears here- 
with. During this time he gave no sign of life. Even a fly 
crawling over his eye and nose did not make him forget that 
his duty was to "lay low" at whatever cost (Plate XVII). 

This young one I took to be two weeks old. His 
colours were quite unlike those of the adult, being soft, un- 
spotted shades of gray and brown that matched him with the 
ground, helping him to hide; they constituted, indeed, a 
protective colouration, in contrast to the directive livery of the 
old one — a livery which he does not assume until he is able to 
save himself by running. 

Prongbuck 241 

On the preceding day I had ridden alongside the Yellow- 
stone, in the Park, with E. Hofer. Three Antelope were in 
sight. By imitating the squeak of a young one, Hofer brought 
an old one up near, and shortly afterward we found two of 
the young close together. They were well grown — much 
larger than the one seen the day after; yet they crouched 
in the sage while the mother circled 200 yards away, uttering 
her alarm bleat. When we got within a few feet of them, they 
jumped up and ran away swiftly, but crouched again when out 
of sight over the next ridge. I took them to be about three 
weeks old. In this case the mother's alarm cry may have been 
the sufficient order to hide. 

As soon as the young can follow, there is a disposition on 
the part of the mothers to form little bands. In early July two 
or three of the old ones with their kids may often be seen to- 
gether. They unite for the sake of company and mutual 
protection, so that this is truly a social gathering. 

By the end of July the kids on the Yellowstone are about 
half grown and have now assumed the livery of the old ones. 
Early in August the young bucks begin to join the bands of 
their mothers and httle brothers. 

By September older bucks drift in, and the Antelope band septem 
shows all ages, sizes, and sexes mingled together in a huge 
happy family. As this is too soon for the sexual passions to 
play their firebrand part, we have in this bright month of 
September an ideal scene that is probably unique among our 
horned ruminants. 

Many old hunters have described it to me. W. R. Mc- 
Fadden, of Denver, in particular, has given me full details, 
including those of a game that he witnessed about the middle 
of September, 1882, in the head of Middle Park, Colo. 

He had crawled out after a band of Antelope on the plain, play 
There was a fine big buck, and only one. McFadden got out 
to a Buffalo wallow, and rising up to shoot saw the buck 
playing with seven or eight kids. They were careering about, 
he was leading. They would chase him, and caper and prance 
around him. After about half an hour the little ones got tired 

242 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and rested. But the buck was still fresh, and he set out racing 
by himself as though bent on using up all his surplus energies. 
Rushing at full gallop round and round the bushes, here and 
there, anywhere, to keep going, and yet close to the band, he 
must have run ten minutes, all alone, at full speed, while the 
hunter watched, and still seemed fresh as ever. 

On another occasion McFadden saw a dozen kids and 
two or three big bucks at play in the same way. 

As September passes the band increases, the merry games 
relax not; and the good fellowship existing is exemplified when 
Fox or Coyote menace any of the young. Each one seems now 
to act for the good of the entire herd. A mid-September inci- 
dent of Antelope hunting in Jackson's Hole recurs to me: I 
had crawled through brush and sage for half a mile after a 
mixed band of 40. I was within 300 yards and, in cover of a 
certain clump of sage, expecting to get within 100 yards, before 
selecting my specimen, when a loud "kau" afar to my right 
called my att'entlon to the fact that I was in plain view of a 
young sentinel buck whose head showed above the sage 200 
yards to my left. In an instant every crupper-disk was flashing 
and the band lined up. The next moment I knew they would 
be going. I turned my sights on the nearest — it was the senti- 
nel — and now — he is among the specimens on view in the 
National Museum. 

MATING This ideal family gathering is broken up at length, not 

by any outside enemy, but by the annual mating (one cannot 
call it pairing) season. Toward the end of September the 
kids of the year are weaned, and about the same time the pro- 
creative instinct is aroused in the bucks. At first the feeling is 
one merely of fevered unrest without definite purpose; sudden 
impulses drive them to expend their energies in aimless exer- 
cise. The Honourable T. Roosevelt writes :^^ 

"Of all the game the Prongbuck seems to me the most 
excitable during the rut. The males run the does much as do 

^*Deer Family, 1903, pp. 109-110. 

Prongbuck 243 

the bucks of the Mule and Whitetail Deer. If there are no 
does present I have sometimes watched a buck run to and fro 
by himself. The first time I saw this I was greatly interested, 
and could form no idea of what the buck was doing. He was 
by a creek bed in a slight depression or shallow valley, and 
was grazing uneasily. After a little while he suddenly started 
and ran just as hard as he could, off in a straight direction, 
nearly away from me. I thought that somehow or other he 
had discovered my presence; but he suddenly wheeled and 
came back to the original place, still running at his utmost 
speed. Then he halted, moved about with the white hairs 
on his rump outspread, and again dashed off at full speed, 
halted, wheeled, and came back. Two or three times he did 
this, and let me get up very close to him before he discovered 
me. I was too much interested in what he was doing to desire 
to shoot him." 

The passion of the bucks takes very definite form when, 
later, the females manifest signs of response, and the battles 
that ensue show all the savagery and greed that is characteristic 
of the extremely polygamous creature that the Antelope is. 
Canfield says" of his domesticated Antelope: "He was the 
most salacious animal I have ever seen." 

"In September [says Roosevelt ^^], sometimes not earlier 
than October, the big bucks begin to gather the does into 
harems. Each buck is then constantly on the watch to protect 
his harem from outsiders, and steal another doe, if he can get 
a chance. I have seen a comparatively young buck who had 
appropriated a doe, hustle her hastily out of the country as 
soon as he saw another Antelope in the neighbourhood, while, 
on the other hand, a big buck, already with a good herd 
of does, will do his best to appropriate any other that comes 
in sight." 

Roosevelt does not think these buck duels very serious fiGHx- 
affairs, but Audubon says" "they fight with great courage and 
even a degree of ferocity. * * * They strike with the 

*'' Caton. Antelope and Deer of America, 1877, p. 45. 

"Deer Family, 1903, p. no. " Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 197. 


244 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

horns, they wheel and bound with prodigious activity and 
rapidity, giving and receiving severe wounds." 

In the Washington Zoo I repeatedly saw their manner of 
fighting, and was made to realize how exactly each detail of the 
apparently harmless horn had a purpose, offensive or defensive, 
for which it was highly specialized. Two bucks were having 
one of their periodical struggles for the mastery. They ap- 
proached each other with noses to the ground, and after fencing 
for an opening, closed with a clash. As they thrust and par- 
ried, the purpose of the prong was clear. It served the Ante- 
lope exactly as the guard on the bowie-knife or the sword serves 
a man; for countless thrusts that would have slipped up the 
horn and reached the head, were caught with admirable adroit- 
ness in this fork. 

And the in-turned harmless looking points .? I had to 
watch long before I saw how dangerous they might be when 
skilfully used. After several minutes of fencing, one of the 
bucks got under his rival's guard, and making a sudden lunge, 
which the other failed to catch in the fork, he brought his in- 
turned left point to bear on the unprotected throat of his 
opponent, who saved himself from injury by rearing quickly 
and throwing himself backward. Such a move, however, it 
seemed to me, could scarcely have foiled a dangerous thrust if 
the two animals had been fighting a deadly duel. 

I find, further, that in their fights the wild Antelope are 
usually struck in this way. W. R. McFadden tells me that 
he has seen two bucks badly ripped by a rival's horn, one in the 
throat, the other in the side of the neck close to the throat. 

I recall a scene, the sequel of an Antelope duel on the Big- 
horn Basin many years ago, in which evidently the defeated 
buck took the most serious possible view of the situation. It 
was in the October of 1898. I was riding across the Bighorn 
Basin (Wyoming) with Mrs. Seton and A. A. Anderson, when 
we noticed near the horizon some bright white specks. They 
were moving about, appearing and disappearing. Then two of 
them seemed to dart erratically over the plain, keeping always 

(From a photograph by Mrs. G. G. Seton.) 


Prongbuck 245 

an equal distance apart. Soon these left the others and 
careered about like twin meteors, this way and that, then our 
way; at first in changing line, but later directly toward us. 
Their wonderful speed soon ate up the intervening mile or two, 
and we now saw clearly that they were Antelope, one in pursuit 
of the other. High over their heads a golden eagle was sailing. 

On they came. The half mile shrank to a couple of hun- 
dred yards, and we saw that they were bucks — the hind one the 
larger — dashing straight toward us. As they yet neared we 
could see the smaller one making desperate efforts to avoid 
the savage lunges of the big one's horns, and barely maintaining 
the scant six feet that were between him and his foe. 

We reined up to watch, for it now was clear that the 
smaller buck had been defeated in battle, and was trying to 
save his life by flight. But his heaving flanks and gaping, 
dribbling mouth showed that he could not hold out much 
longer. Straight on he came toward us, the deadliest foes 
of his race, the ones he fears the most. 

He was clearly between two deaths — which should he sanctu- 
choose ? He seemed not to hesitate — the 200 yards shrank 
to 100, the 100 to 50 — then the pursuer slacked his speed, 
seeing that it would be folly to come farther. The fugitive 
kept on until he dashed right in among our startled horses. 
The eagle alighted on a rock 200 yards away. 

The victorious buck veered off, shaking his sharp, black 
horns, and circling at a safe distance around our cavalcade to 
intercept his victim when he should come out the other side. 
But the victim did not come out. He felt that he was saved, 
and he stayed with us. The other buck, seeing that he was 
balked, gave up the attempt, and turning back, sailed across 
the plain, till he became a white speck that rejoined the other 
specks — no doubt the does that had caused the duel. 

The vanquished buck with us stood for a time panting, 
lolling his tongue, and showing every sign of dire distress. It 
would have been easy to lasso him, but none of us had any 
desire to do him harm. In a very short time he regained his 

246 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

wind, and having seen his foe away to a safe distance, he left 
our company and went off in the opposite direction. The 
eagle realizing now that there would be no pickings for him, 
rose in haste and soared to a safe distance. 

This incident suggests a number of psychological problems 
which will be hard to solve if we accept certain old-time theo- 
ries of animal creation, but which will solve themselves if 
we admit the Antelope to be a fellow-creature, with feelings 
somewhat akin to our own. Had one of us been in the place 
of the vanquished buck, we should probably have done just 
as he did. 

The American Bison or Buffalo. 

Bison bison (Linnaeus). 

(Gr. Bison, the shaggy, hump-backed, wild Ox of Europe; the true Bison.) 

Bos bison Linn., 1758. Syst. Nat., ed. I, p. 72. 

Bison bison Jordan, 1888. Man. Vert., U. S., 5th Ed., p. 337. 

Type Locality. — Mountains of south-eastern United States. 

French Canadian, le Bison. 

Cree & OjiB., Mush-kwe-tay'-pej-ee-kee (prairie 

Chipewyan, Ed-jer'-ay. 

Yankton Sioux, Tah-tank-ka Coh-wah'-pee. 
Ogallala Sioux, Tah-tank'-kah (bull), Ptay (cow). 

The Family Bovidce comprises large animals (cattle) of 
the style of the common ox. They have hollow horns on 
persistent bony cores, which grow larger each year, and are 
never shed; 4 hoofs on each foot, the hinder 2 smaller and 
higher than the front 2; feed on herbage; have no upper in- 
cisors; a complex stomach, with 4 distinct compartments, and 
chew the cud. 

The genus Bison (H. Smith, 1827) has, in addition to 
all the Family characters: Curved cylindrical horns; a high 
hump on the shoulders, due to great prolongation of the spines 


248 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of the vertebrae; a short tail; long woolly hair, especially on 
the head and fore parts. 

_ , ^ 0-0 0-0 ^s , SS 

leeth: Inc. ; can. ; prem. ; mol. =22 

4-4 0-0 3-3 3-3 

The American Buffalo, in addition to the Family and 
generic characteristics, has peculiarities of size and colour in- 
dicated by the following: 
SIZE A large bull shot by Dr. W. T. Hornaday in Montana, 

December 6, 1886, measured:^ 

Height at shoulders 5 ft. 8 in. 

Length of head and body to insertion of tail . 10 " 2 " 

Depth of chest 3 " 10 " 

Girth behind forelegs 8 " 4 " 

Circumference of muzzle behind nostrils . . 2 " 2 " 

Length of tail vertebrae I " 3 " 

Length of hair on shoulders 6| " 

Length of hair on forehead i " 4 " 

Length of chin beard ii|" 

1,727 mm.) 

3,100 mm.) 

1,169 miTi-) 

2,542 mm.) 

661 mm.) 

381 mm.) 

165 mm.) 

407 mm.) 

292 mm.) 

This was a typical Buffalo bull, but specimens of over 
6 feet (1,830 mm.) at the withers have been recorded. 

An adult cow measured at the same time was 4 feet 
10 inches at the shoulders (1,474 mm.). , 

HEAD It is customary to speak of the enormous head of the 

Buffalo bull as a thing out of proportion to his bulk; but the 
Buffalo head, divested of its wool, is of the same proportion as 
that of the horse, ox, or dog. That is to say that, at the shoul- 
der, the animal is 2| heads high, and that the body from the 
shoulder point to the croup is about 2| heads. 

According to Montague Brown (in " Encyclopedia of 
Sport"), the largest recorded horns of this animal are 21 inches 
long with a girth of 15 inches; but August Gottschalk, of Boze- 
man, Mont., has sent me statements, fully and legally attested, 

* Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 405. 

Buffalo 249 

that he has a mounted head of which the left horn is 22 inches 
long, and i6f inches in girth at the base, the widest spread of the 
horns being 35 inches from tip to tip. He sends me also a pho- 
tograph of the head of a grand old bull having a spread of ^^^ 
inches across the horns, the right having a length of 205 inches 
and a girth of i6| inches. I have not seen either of these. 

Hornaday gives ii| inches as the length of the beard of 
the above-mentioned bull that he mounted for the National 
Museum. E. Carter, of Breckenridge, Colo., tells me that the 
longest beard he ever measured was 12 inches. 

The ordinary process of grazing tends to keep the beard 
of wild individuals worn down short. I have no doubt that 
the length given is exceeded in stalled specimens. 

About 1,800 pounds is considered average weight for a weight 
bull, but Hornaday tells me that he weighed two living bulls 
at 2,190 pounds and 1,990 pounds respectively. 

According to Audubon and Bachman,' fat cows weigh 
about 1,200 pounds; though Henry says,^ seldom over 700 or 
800 pounds. The lesser weight seems to be nearer the aver- 
age, but I have seen cows that stood as high and looked as 
heavy as ordinary bulls. 

The bull has the head, tail, legs, lower parts of neck, and colour 
shoulders dark brown, shaded into lighter brown on the upper 
parts of the body, palest on the shoulders and hump; toward 
spring, all the upper parts of the body bleach into a dull brown- 
ish-yellow, beside which the head looks black. 

The cow is similar, but darker in the body colour. 

At birth the calf is dull reddish-yellow, paler on the legs 
and under parts; at six months it is more like the mother; at 
two years it is everywhere of a deep, glossy, blackish brown; 
after this it again grows paler with age. 

There were several well-known freaks and colour-varieties 
of the Buffalo "robe," as the shaggy hide of the animal was 

* Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. II, p. 44. 'Henry's Journal, 1897, Vol. I, p. 171. 

250 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

called. The "beaver robe" was a rich brown with very fine 
fur, of these not more than one in ten thousand was found; the 
"black robe," oftenest seen in the Mountain Buffalo, was less 
rare. The "buckskin robe," of a yellow tinge, a sort of half 
albine, had little value. There were also the "blue robe," 
which was slatey, and the "white or pied robe." This last was 
the rarest. One or two in a lifetime was the utmost that any 
hunter secured. The Indians treasured them as "great 
medicine." Long writes* of one which J. Dougherty saw in 
an Indian hut, "a Bison head very well prepared, which had a 
white star on the front. The owner valued it highly, calUng 
it his great medicine; he could not be tempted to part with it, 
"for," said he, "the herds come every season i:nto the vicinity 
to seek their white-faced companion." A magnificent and his- 
torical robe of pure white was the special medicine and personal 
adornment of the great Cheyenne Chief Roman-nose. He wore 
it in his last fight, when he charged fearlessly at the head of his 
band to fall in the leaden hail of Forsyth's troops entrenched 
on Beecher Island. (RepubHcan River, Sept. 17, 1868.) 

Covering, as it does, so many diverse faunal areas, one 
might naturally expect the Buffalo to split up into several 
corresponding races; and it is generally recognized that, in a 
measure, it did so. 

The far north produced the huge Wood Buffalo {B, B. 
athahasccB, Rhoads); the Rockies the small dark Mountain 
Buffalo; the Plains the paler medium-sized Plains Buffalo. 
It is probable, too, that the extinct Alleghanian Buffalo had 
distinctive characteristics, but there is no available evidence 
to prove this. 

HISTORY The Bison, or Buffalo, the largest and, at one time, the 

most important of all America's big game, was first discovered 
by the explorers of the sixteenth century. 

In 1 521 Cortez, the Spanish Conqueror of Mexico, reached 
Montezuma's capital, the City of Mexico, where, in the men- 

* Exp. Rocky Mts., 1823, Vol. I, p. 471. 

Buffalo 251 

agerie, he saw the first American Bison to be viewed by 
European eyes. The menagerie and the beast are thus de- 
scribed"' by Antonio de SoHs (Conquest of Mexico, 1684): 

" In the second Square of the same House were the Wild 
Beasts, which were either presents to Montezuma, or taken by 
his Hunters, in strong Cages of Timber, ranged in good Order, 
and under Cover; Lions, Tygers, Bears, and all others of the 
savage Kind which New-Spain produced; among which the 
greatest Rarity was the Mexican Bull : a wonderful composition 
of divers Animals. It has crooked Shoulders, with a Bunch 
on its Back like a Camel; its Flanks dry, its Tail large, and its 
Neck covered with Hair like a Lion. It is cloven-footed, its 
Head armed like that of a Bull, which it resembles in Fierce- 
ness, with no less Strength and Agility." 

But this was at least three hundred miles from the natural 
range of the Bison, which, as a wild animal, had yet to be dis- 
covered. This discovery took place nine years later, and again 
the honour fell to a Spaniard. In 1530, Alva Nuiiez Cabeza 
de Vaca was wrecked on the Gulf Coast. Travelling inland 
to what is now south-eastern Texas, he met with the Bison on 
its native range. So far as I know this was the first meeting 
of the wild American Buffalo and the gun-bearing white man. 
Cabeza's remarks are brief but clear:® 

" Cattle come as far as this. I have seen them three times, 
and eaten of their meat. I think they are about the size of 
those in Spain. They have small horns like those of Morocco, 
and the hair long and flocky, like that of the Merino. Some 
are light brown (pardiUas), and others black. To my judg- 
ment, the flesh is finer and sweeter than that of this country 
[Spain]. The Indians make blankets of those that are not 
full grown, and of the larger they make shoes and bucklers. 
They come as far as the seacoast of Florida [now Texas] and 
in a direction from the north, and range over a district of 
more than 400 leagues. In the whole extent of plain over 
which they roam, the people, who live bordering upon it, de- 

* Quoted by Homaday, Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 373. 
'Davis's Spanish Conquest of New Mexico, 1869, p. 67. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

scend and kill them for food; and thus a great many skins 
are scattered throughout the country." 

Coronado was the next explorer who penetrated the 
region inhabited by the Buffalo, which he traversed from the 
west, entering by way of Arizona and New Mexico, in 1540. 
He crossed the southern part of the "Panhandle" of Texas, 
reached the edge of what is now Indian Territory, and returned 
through the same region. It was in the year 1542 that he 
reached the Buffalo country, and traversed the plains that were 

"full of crooked- 
" backed Oxen, as 
the mountain Se- 
rena in Spain is of 
sheep." One of 
his followers, Cas- 
taneda, gives a 
description of the 
animal, and adds: 
"We were much 
surprised at some- 
times meeting in- 
numerable herds 
of bulls without a single cow, and other herds of cows with- 
out bulls.' 

The earliest discovery of the Bison in eastern North Amer- 
ica, or indeed anywhere north of Coronado's route, was made 
somewhere near Washington, District of Columbia, in 161 2, 
by an Englishman, Sir Samuel Argoll, afterward Deputy- 
Governor of Virginia, who says:^ 

"I set my men to the felling of Timber, for the building 
of a Frigat, which I had left half finished at Point Comfort, 
the 19th of March; and returned myself with the ship into 
Pembrook [Potomac] River and so discovered to the head of it, 
which is about 65 leagues into the Land, and navigable for 
any ship. And then marching into the Countrie, I found 
great stores of Cattle as big as Kine, of which the Indians 

'' hoc. cit., pp. 206-7. ^Purchas Pilgr., 1625, Vol. IV, p. 1765. 

Fig. 100 — Earliest known picture of American Buffalo. 

From Gomara's Historia de las Indias Saragossa, 1552-1553. Folio. 

In New York Public Library (Lenox Building). 

Buffalo 253 

that were my guides killed a couple, which we found to be 
very good and wholesome meat, and are very easy to be 
killed, in regard they are heavy, slow, and not so wild as 
other Beasts of the wilderness." 

*'It is to be regretted [says Hornaday ^] that the narrative 
of the explorer affords no clew to the precise locality of this 
interesting discovery; but, since it is doubtful that the mariners 
journeyed very far on foot from the head of navigation of the 
Potomac, it seems highly probable that the first American Bison 
seen by Europeans, other than the Spaniards, was found within 
15 miles, or even less, of the capitol of the United States, and 
possibly within the District of Columbia itself." 

From this time onward, the region of the Buffalo was more 
often visited, and the explorers gave frequent descriptions of 
the great beast and of its vast numbers.'*' 

The earliest figure that I can find was that given by 
Gomara in 1553. It is here reproduced, full size (p. 252). 
Evidently it was drawn from the imaginative description of the 
discoverer. While corresponding line for line with the text, 
which corresponds line for line with the animal, it presents in 
the language of the times, a monstrous beast indeed. 


The accompanying map (p. 255), showing the original range 
range of the Buffalo, has been compiled chiefly from maps 
by Drs. Allen and Hornaday, with later information accumu- 
lated from other sources. 

When Alexander Henry H came to Red River, in 1799, in^l\ni- 
he found the Buffalo swarming all along the Red River Valley. 

Alexander Ross says" *'all this part of the country was 
overrun by the wild Buffalo, even as late at 18 10." 

"Exterm. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 375. 

'" These facts are largely drawn from the two standard sources: Dr. W. T. Homa- 
day's Extermination of the American Bison (1889), and Dr. J. A. Allen's American 
Bisons (1876). 

" Red River Settlement, 1856, p. 15. 

254 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In 1 812 the first brigade of Scotch families arrived to found 
Red River colony. Strange to say, this was the first year when 
the Bufi^alo did not graze over the site of modern Winnipeg. 

In 181 7 Buffalo were "far off" from Red River.'' 

In 181 8, according to tradition, a large band came for the 
last time within a day's ride of Fort Garry, ■ 

In 1 819 they could still kill some Buffalo in the country 
adjacent to Fort Pembina.'^ 

In 1 821 Buffalo were scarce at Pembina.'* 

In 1826 Buffalo were not found apparently until 150 or 
200 miles beyond Pembina.'^ 

In 1849 the hunters went 250 miles from Pembina in the 
direction of Cheyenne River before finding the Buffalo herds.''' 

In 1852 the end of the Buffalo was evidently not far dis- 

Nevertheless, there were at that time many Buffalo still 
roaming the Big Plain where Carberry now stands. Cap- 
tain John Schott, of Athabaska Landing, tells me that in 
1852, when he was a boy eleven years old, he went with a 
party of Buffalo hunters (Saint Pierre Pierrot, Louison Bonnot, 
and Pierre Pierrot) in search of Buffalo westward of Winnipeg. 
They found plenty of them on the Big Plain, and camped in 
the sandhills to the south where there was a good place to 
herd the horses and also high hills from which to see the 
Buffalo. Little John's job was to watch the horse herd from 
some sandhill, and if they strayed too far he would go on his 
pony to round them up. 

The more recent skulls that strewed the Big Plain in 1882 
for the most part dated chiefly from that hunt of thirty years 

In the winter of 1856-7, according to H. Y. Hind, the 
Buffalo were very numerous on the banks of the Souris.'* 

In 1858 Hind found abundance of fresh Buffalo signs 
along the International Boundary, near Souris River.'^ He 

'^ Ross, Red River Settl., 1856, p. 47. " Ibid., p. 50. 

''Ibid., p. 58. '"Ibid., p. 99. 

'«76i(f., p. 255. " Ibid., p. 267. 

'® Ass. & Sask. Expl. Exped., 1859, p. 43. '^ Ibid., pp. 44-45. 

Bison bison (Linn.). 


256 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

saw no Buffalo there, but records that there were great herds 
of these animals still on the summer range of the Coteau du 
Missouri, 50 miles to the south-west.'° The fear of the Sioux, 
he says, kept most hunters out of that country. 

At Two Creeks, Hind saw and shot the first Buffalo — a 
bull — on July 9, 1858. Next morning, as he journeyed toward 
Fort Ellice, he saw 3 more. Thirty miles west of the fort, he 
says, "Buffalo were numerous." ^^ 

The last Buffalo band seen in Manitoba by John Schott 
was in 1861, when an immense herd was discovered in Grand 
Valley. They completely covered the site of the present town 
of Brandon. 

In 1867 a trader, J. L. Lagare, went on a journey from 
Winnipeg toward Wood Mountain. He told me in conversa- 
tion that he saw the first Buffalo at Oak Lake; and during 
the winter of 1867-8 he and his partner lived on Buffalo killed 
on the Souris Plains, although they were then scarce, and only 
small bunches were to be seen. The great herd kept farther 
west, about Cypress Hills. 

In 1874 Dr. E. Coues passed along the International 
Boundary without seeing any Buffalo till he got to Frenchmen's 
River, Montana, about Long. 107° 20', or 200 miles west of 

In 1875 a few stragglers were said to be on the Big Plain. 

In 1879, ^bout November 7, Dr. F. W. Shaw, of Carberry, 
tells me that, as he was going to Rapid City from the Big Plain, 
he saw the tracks of 3 Buffalo at a place about 4 miles north of 
Grand Valley. They had been travelling northward, and a few 
hours before had been seen by a Mr. McFadden, while they 
were crossing the Assiniboine. 

In 1882, C. C. Helliwell, of Brandon, saw 8 in the 
Souris region. 

In the fall of 1883, according to A. S. Barton, of Boisse- 
vain, an old Buffalo bull crossed the Souris Plain from the south- 

"^Ibid., p. 46. ''Ibid., p. 46. 

'^ Birds, 49th Parallel, Bull. U. S. Geol. Sur. Ter., 1878. Bull. 3, Vol. IV, art. XXV, 
P- 547- 


After C. S Sargent's Map No. i, Tenth Census of United States, Dep. Int., 1880, with corrections in Canad 

trom the Atlas recently published by the Department of the Interior of Canada (1906). 

Showing coniferous forest in dark tint, deciduous forest in pale tint, prairies in dotted tint, and treeless plains in white tint 


258 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

east, going north-westerly toward Plum Creek. It was pursued 
by the Gales on the Antlers of the Souris, but was never over- 
taken. When last seen it was going toward Moose Mountain. 
About this time an old bull, probably the same, was seen 
near the site of the present town of Souris. My informant, H. 
W. O. Boger, says he saw it in daylight at 300 yards as it crossed 
his farm. It was trotting and went off north-west. A lot of 
the boys went after it, but never got it. This was the last seen 
in the region. It was recoided in all the current newspapers. 

In 1882, when first I went to live in Western Manitoba, the 
prairie everywhere was dotted with old Buffalo skulls. Many 
had horns on them, but none had hair. Their condition and 
local tradition agree in fixing i860 to 1865 as the epoch when 
the last Buffalo were killed on the Big Plain. 

In the long slough east of Carberry I have found many 
Buffalo bones; and on August 13, 1899, I found a complete 
Buffalo skeleton there. No doubt, all the large bogs through- 
out Manitoba contain skeletons of Buffalo that have been 
mired and engulfed. 

ENVIRON- Although Map 10 gives so vast an area as the range of the 
Bison in days gone by, it is not to be supposed that the species 
was equally abundant in all parts. We know, in fact, that it 
was comparatively rare in most of the wooded country. 

The true Buffalo range was that part of the region which 
was without trees and yet was provided with water, as will be 
seen on comparison of the Buffalo map with the Forest and 
Plains Map of America. We find that in the East the Buffalo 
followed the deciduous forests, and yet appeared to avoid conif- 
erous woods. A study of the conditions prepares me for 
a future find of Buffalo bones on the north side of Lake Erie. 

In all this wooded country, however, its numbers were 
small, the true home of the species being the open region of the 
great Mississippi River Valley, where the land was un forested 
and yet well watered. On this only was it ever found in herds 
of millions. 


Buffalo 259 

The early explorers who describe the Buffalo bands do ancient 

, . , , . . NUM- 

not give us anything more exact than superlative expressions, bers 
such as "countless herds," "incredible numbers," "teeming 
myriads," "the world one robe," etc. 

To gain a more precise idea as to the numbers of this 
species, it is necessary to attempt an estimate, as follows: 

The total area inhabited by the Buffalo was about 3,000,000 
square miles. Of this area open plains constituted about one- 
half. According to figures supplied me by A. F. Potter, of the 
Forest Service, the ranges of North and South Dakota, Montana, 
Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma 
(a total of about 750,000 square miles, or half of the plains) car- 
ried at the time of the last census (1900) about 24,000,000 head 
of cattle and horses and about 6,000,000 head of sheep. This 
means that, when fully stocked, these plains might sustain a num- 
ber of Buffalo at least equal to the number of cattle and horses. 
But the Buffalo had to divide their heritage with numerous herds 
of Mustang, Antelope, and Wapiti. On the other hand, a Buf- 
falo could find a living where a range animal would starve. 
Moreover, many of the richest bottom lands are now fenced in, 
and we have taken no account of the 6,000,000 sheep. On the 
whole, it seems that we are safe in placing the number of Buffalo 
formerly living on the entire Plains area as about 40,000,000. 

The range of the species on the prairies was a third as 
large as that on the Plains, but it was vastly more fertile; 
indeed, the stockmen reckon one acre of prairie as equal in 
fertility to four acres of the Plains. Doubtless, therefore, the 
prairies sustained nearly as many head as the Plains; we may 
safely set their population at 30,000,000. 

The forest region of the Buffalo area supported a relatively 
sparse population. For its 1,000,000 square miles we cannot 
allow more than 5,000,000 Buffalo. 

Summing up these totals, we arrive at the conclusion that 
the primitive number of Buffalo was about 75,000,000. 

Let us consider the question from another standpoint: 
There were 1,500,000 square miles of the Plains; it takes 

260 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

30 acres of such range to support an ordinary range beast, which 
needs as much as, or more than, a Buffalo. There were as many 
of the latter as the food could sustain; therefore the Plains 
had 30,000,000, but take off one-third to allow for the herds 
of other creatures, and we have 20,000,000 as the number 
of the Plains Buffalo. On the prairies and in the woods 
10 acres a head is the usual range allowance; but doubling this 
to allow for Deer, etc., it would give us a population of 45,000,- 
000, or a total of 65,000,000 Buffalo. 

Again: Col. C. J.Jones estimated ^^ the Buffalo in 1870 
at 14,000,000. They were then occupying less than one-third 
of their range and were not nearly so crowded as in ancient 
times; their original total, therefore, must have been at least 

Yet again: All the evidence available goes to show that 
the Buffalo herds travelled from 100 to 400 miles in search of 
food; and that these herds broke speedily to find sustenance, 
and therefore that the herds never went more than 300 or 400 
miles from their home-region. Hornaday estimates^^ at 4,000,- 
000 a herd which Colonel Dodge saw" travelling on the Arkan- 
sas in May, 1871. If this herd had been gathered from the 
extreme distance from which they are known to congregate, 
it would represent an area of 200,000 square miles. There 
would be room enough to repeat this about 15 times on their 
range, and thus yield a population of about 60,000,000 as the 
sum of the Buffalo in primitive days, when their whole range 
was stocked as fully as the food-supply would permit. From 
these facts it will appear very safe to put the primitive Buffalo 
population at 50,000,000 to 60,000,000. 

In 1800 there were practically no Buffalo east of the 
Mississippi. Their range had shrunken by one-eighth; their 
numbers doubtless shrunk in even greater degree; 40,000,000 
head would be a fair estimate at that time. 

The Duke of Bedford's herd of Buffalo at Woburn Abbey 

*^ Forty years of Adv., 1899, p. 255. '^* Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 391. 

'^ Plains of Gt. West., p. 120. 

Buffalo 261 

was begun In 1896 with 7 animals, and had increased to 25 in 
1905 notwithstanding a loss of 11 by deaths. That is to say, 
it had increased 20 per cent, each year, and in six years had 
doubled. A similar rate of increase is seen in the Corbin herd. 
These figures represent, no doubt, an abnormal rate of increase, 
as the animals are constantly protected and never suffer for 
lack of food. 

The total of Buffalo in captivity in 1889 was 256; since 
then they have added as nearly as possible 10 per cent, per 
annum in spite of many disadvantages, such as isolated ani- 
mals, over-feeding, over-production of males, etc. If, there- 
fore, we set the rate of increase in the wild herds at 5 per cent., 
as long as they are within the limit set by food-supply, we shall 
probably be near the facts. In early days the Buffalo held 
their own well against the Indians with their primitive weapons. 
But, in the full splendour of the Buffalo days, say about 1830, 
the Indians, aided now by horses and armed with rifles, killed, 
as will be seen later, at the rate of over 2,000,000 each year. 
Allen estimates-" the destruction by Indians at 2,000 000 annually 
in the early 40's. Baird puts it" at 3,500,000 in the 50*3 on 
the Missouri alone. Other means of destruction added at least 
half as many more to the number, so that 3,000,000 a year may 
have been reached as a total of loss in the 30's. To stand such 
drain with their slow rate of increase, the herds would have 
had to be at least ten times as numerous as they were. But 
they could not stand it, and they were plainly diminishing. 
Therefore, they must have fallen below 40,000,000 even as 
early as the beginning of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, 
they could not have been much less than that or they would 
have vanished far faster than they did. 

All observers agree that the Buffalo in great herds visited migra- 

r . TIONS 

parts of the country where at other times they had been un- 
known, and they remained for a time until impelled to another 
change of residence. The questions arise: Were these regu- 
lar movements up and down certain routes ? Was the change 

^^ Hist. Am. Bison, Dep. Int., 1877, p.562. ^ Ibid., p. 562. 

262 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

made under stress of weather or famine, or both ? In other 
words, Was the Buffalo truly migratory ? 

To this question Catlin gives an emphatic "No." 

"These animals [he writes^*] are, truly speaking, gregarious 
but not migratory. They graze in immense and almost in- 
credible numbers at times, and roam about and over vast tracts 
of country, from East to West, and from West to East, as often 
as from North to South." 

There is, furthermore, abundant proof that the herds 
were found summer and winter over most of the animal's 
natural range. This is all the evidence I can find for the non- 
migratory theory. 

On the other hand, all records, even those of Catlin, refer 
to the coming and going of the Buffalo, not perfectly regular, 
but quite seasonal, while most records speak especially of sum- 
mer and winter ranges, as regions where herds were to be found 
at set times. 

Colonel Dodge tells ^'' of a herd estimated at 4,000,000 that 
he saw on the Arkansas in May, 1871, moving northward. At 
Beaver Creek, 100 miles south of Glendive, Jas. McNaney 
says^'' that the Buffalo began to arrive from the north in the 
middle of October, 1882; that about the first of December an 
immense herd came; that by Christmas all had gone south- 
ward; but that a few days later another great herd came from 
the north and followed the rest. 

The half-breeds and old hunters along the Red River have 
often told me of the northward coming of the Buffalo in spring, 
and of their southward migration in the fall. 

Hornaday, after a very full investigation of the subject, 

"It was a fixed habit with the great Buffalo herds to move 
southward from 200 to 400 miles at the approach of the winter. 

5jC rjC r^ 5j^ Jji ?jC ?{> 

At the approach of winter the whole great system of 
herds which range from the Peace River to the Indian Terri- 

=' N. Am. Ind., 1866, Vol. I, p. 248. ""^ Plains of Gt. West, p. 120, ei seq. 

^ Homaday's Ext. Am. Bison, 18S9, p. 421. " Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 420. 

Buffalo 263 

tory moved south a few hundred miles, and wintered under 
more favourable circumstances than each band would have 
experienced at its farthest north. Thus it happened that 
nearly the whole of the great range south of the Saskatchewan 
was occupied by Buffaloes even in winter." 

"The movement north began with the return of mild 
weather in the early spring. Undoubtedly, this northward 
migration was to escape the heat of their southern winter range 
rather than to find better pasture; for as a grazing country for 
cattle all the year round, Texas is hardly surpassed, except 
where it is overstocked. It was with the Buffaloes a matter of 
choice rather than necessity which sent them on their annual 
pilgrimage northward." ^^ 

Colonel R. I. Dodge's many valuable observations on the 
migratory habits of the southern Buffaloes tend to the same 

"Early in the spring [he says^^], as soon as the dry and ap- 
parently desert prairie had begun to change its coat of dingy 
brown to one of the palest green, the horizon would begin to 
be dotted with Buffalo, single or in groups of two or three, 
forerunners of the coming herd. 

"Thicker and thicker and in larger groups they came, 
until by the time the grass is well up, the whole vast landscape 
appears a mass of Buffalo, some individuals feeding, others 
standing, others lying down, but the herd moving slowly, mov- 
ing constantly to the northward. * * * Some years, as in 
1 87 1, the Buffalo appeared to move northward in one immense 
column, oftentimes from 20 to 50 miles in width, and of un- 
known depth from front to rear. Other years the northward 
journey was made in several parallel columns, moving at the 
same rate, and with their numerous flankers covering a width 
of a hundred or more miles, 

"The line of march of this great spring migration was not 
always the same, though it was confined within certain limits. 
I am informed by old frontiersmen that it has not within twenty- 
five years crossed the Arkansas River east of Great Bend, north- 

'- Loc. cit., p. 424. '=• Our Wild Indians, p. 283, et seq. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

west of Big Sand Creek. The most favoured routes crossed 
the Arkansas at the mouth of Walnut Creek, Pawnee Fort, 
Mulberry Creek, the Cimarron Crossing, and Big Sand Creek. 
"As the great herd proceeds northward it is constantly 
depleted, numbers wandering off to the right and left, until 

Map 12 — Buffalo migration according to Professor Hind's record. 

The dark area in each case marks the winter range. The arrow-heads show direction of migration. 
Their ancient route along Red River is marked with straight dotted lines. 

finally it is scattered in small herds far and wide over the vast 
feeding grounds, where they pass the summer. 

"When the food in one locality fails they go to another, 
and towards fall, when the grass of the higher prairie becomes 
parched by the heat and drought, they gradually work their 
way back to the south, concentrating on the rich pastures of 

Buffalo 265 

Texas and the Indian Territory, whence, the same instinct 
acting on all, they are ready to start together on the northward 
march as soon as spring starts the grass." 

To this Hornaday adds:^* "The herds which wintered 
on the Montana ranges always went north in the early spring, 
usually in March, so that, during the time the hunters were 
hauling in the hides taken on the winter hunt, the ranges were 
entirely deserted. It is equally certain, however, that a few 
small bands remained in certain portions of Montana 
throughout the summer. But the main body crossed the In- 
ternational Boundary, and spent the summer on the Plains 
of Saskatchewan, where they were hunted by the half- 
breeds from the Red River Settlement and the Indians of the 
Plains. It is my belief that in this movement nearly all the 
Buffaloes of Montana and Dakota participated, and that 
the herds which spent the summer in Dakota, where they 
were annually hunted by the Red River half-breeds, came up 
from Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska." 

Hind, the leader of the famous exploring expedition to 
the Canadian Northwest in 1859, has left some valuable 
records^^ as to the Buffalo movements, from which I have com- 
piled the accompanying map (No. 12). It is remarkable that 
the Saskatchewan herd should have wintered in its coldest 
region. Probably the explanation is that this happened to 
comprise the best feeding grounds. 

A. Henry's record given below shows that, in 1800, the 
stream of migration both northward and southward, moved 
parallel with and close to the Red River. The change to the 
route near Turtle Mountain began about 1812, when the first 
settlers came to Lord Selkirk's land grant, and it was directly 
caused by the increase of hunters in the neighbourhood. 

There is only one sure way to determine the question of 
migration, and that is by a series of observations made during 
a number of years at one point where the Buffalo abounded. 
Twenty years ago we should have said, "Too late for that," 
but now the discovery of Alexander Henry's precious old 

'' Ext. Am. Bison, 1S89, p. 425. " Ass. & Sask. Expl. Exped., 1859, p. 106. 

^QQ Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"Journal in Red River Valley" has shed some light on the 
Buffalo and most other bygone creatures of that now famous 
land of grain. 

Henry's observations^^ were made at Park River Post, a 
fort which he built on the Red River at a point 35 miles south 
of the International Boundary. The Buffalo lived in that 
region the year round, though less numerous there than higher 
up the river. I have collected all his remarks on their migra- 

"18 September, 1800. Immense herds moving south- 
ward slowly." 

"7 November. Great herd of cows going at full speed 

"i January, 1801. Buffalo in great abundance; the 
plains entirely covered; all were moving in a body from north 
to south .^® 

*' 14 January. Country covered with Buffalo moving 

" 15 January. The plains were still covered with Buffalo 
moving slowly northward."" 

During January, 1803, he found the country from Park 
River to Riding Mountain crowded with Buffalo. ^- 

"15 November, 1805. Terrible snow storm, Buffalo 
passing northward in as great numbers as I ever saw them."" 

This last is the only record in Henry's "Journal" that con- 
tradicts the idea of regular migration, but the writer expressly 
says that it was during a blizzard. In Manitoba blizzards 
come always from a northerly point. The Buffalo always 
faced the storm, hence, perhaps, this irregular movement. 

I conclude with Hornaday that the Buffalo did migrate 
from 300 to 400 miles northward in spring, and as far south- 
ward again in autumn, but that the regularity of this movement 
was often much obscured by temporary changes of direction 
to meet changes of weather, to visit well-known pastures, to 

^^ Alex. Henry's Journal, 1799-1814, pub. 1897. ^'' Ibid., p. 99. ^^ Ibid., p. 136. 
''Ibid., p. 162. ^ Ibid., p. 166. *'Ibid., p. 166. 

*-Ibid., p. 208. " Ibid., p. 273. 

Buffalo 267 

seek good crossings of rivers or mountains, or to avoid hostile 
camps and places of evil memories. Furthermore, there were 
scattered individuals to be found in all parts of the range at all 

Theoretically, the BuffaJo must have been migratory. 
Although it covered a vast region It continued of one species, 
whereas, it would probably have split up Into several distinct 
species had not it been continually mixed as a result of migra- 

The chief natural enemies of the Buffalo herds, taking nat- 
in Inverse order of importance, were blizzards, Wolves, prairie enemies 
fires, bogs, the Indian, and rivers. Epidemic disease seems 
to have been unknown among them. 

Hitherto, the blizzard has been entirely ignored as a de- bliz- 

. . . Z\RDS 

stroyer of Bison. My attention was first called to it by Ro- 
manzo N. Bunn, of Chicago. He brings forward evidence to 
show that the last great herd Inhabiting the country north of 
the region between Yankton and Devil's Lake, and between 
the Big Sioux River and Missouri, was destroyed by the bliz- 
zard of 1 87 1-2. He states that in the 70's hundreds of thou- 
sands of Buffalo crossed the Missouri River, going northward, 
and that they never returned, nor were they accounted for by 
the hunters. Senator D. L. Pettigrew, of Flandreau, Dakota, 
informed him that after the terrible winter of 187 1-2, he found 
herds of Buffalo lying dead in the hollows, evidently buried 
where they had sought shelter. 

Concerning his own experiences, Bunn writes me: 
"After months spent in prospecting throughout the 
Northwest during 1880, I reached a point a few miles to the 
westward of the Big Sioux River, and settled upon government 
lands In Kingsbury County, present State of South Dakota. 
There I noted with astonishment the enormous number of 
Buffalo skeletons lying bleaching upon the prairies. The adult 
skeletons were, at that time, In a perfect state of preservation, 
showing, for the most part, no signs of having been disturbed 

268 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

since the death of the animal. Reasoning that, if they had 
been killed by hunters, I should find broken limbs, skulls with 
bullet-holes in them, and marks of rifle-balls on the bones, I 
searched often and diligently for these signs, but I found none. 
True, a stray shoulder-blade, older in appearance than the 
rest, had a spear-head sticking through it, as evidence that an 
Indian had killed this animal many years before; but, on the 
newer-looking and complete skeletons, no mark of violence 
was to be observed. Evidently, they had not been killed by 
hunters. They lay stretched out on the prairie, large animals 
and small, on upland and lowland, usually singly, though one 
day I found fifty in a bunch, lying in a ravine. These seemed 
mainly small or young animals. I observed that just to the 
north was one of the highest hills in the locality, the situation 
being such that, within an hour after a big blizzard had gotten 
up full steam, this ravine would probably be ten feet deep with 

"I pondered much upon this subject, for there were at 
least 200 of these skeletons on my own half-section. By the 
time the next season opened, however, I had ceased to wonder 
how they died, for the cause became evident. 

"The winter of 1 880-1 is still known to the early settlers of 
Dakota as the 'blizzard winter,' and the storm of October 15, 
1880, as the 'October blizzard.' The morning of that day, 
following a rainy night, opened with a fast-falling snow-storm 
and a gale from the north. You could not see a house twenty 
feet away. To venture from shelter during the next two days 
was to endanger your life. Although early in the season and 
the temperature not very low, the soft wet snow would weigh 
down your clothing in a few moments, so you could scarcely 
bear the burden. When it cleared, on the morning of the 17th, 
the entire aspect of the landscape seemed changed. The 
prairie at this point is quite rolling, and cut by many drywater- 
courses, although there is not a living stream in the country, 
and not a tree in sight. On that morning the whole country 
had been brought to practically a dead level. The quantity 
of snow was almost beyond belief. Everywhere it entirely hid 

Buffalo 269 

the prairie grass, lying a foot deep even on the highest ridges. 
Wide ravines, 20 feet deep, were full to the top, and these 
held much snow as late as the following May. 

"Cattle belonging to various settlers had drifted away 
during the storm, and, in spite of the fact that it was early in 
the season and the cattle in good condition, many were lost. 
For example, a pair of heavy, strong work oxen had passed 
over the brow of a hill and were standing on their feet in the 
drift, dead. Their backs were on a level with the surface of 
the snow, their noses elevated in an effort to prevent smother- 
ing, the large horns disclosing their location. 

"In such a blizzard, no escape was possible for even the 
hardy Buffalo. They would have been buried in the sheltering 
hollows where they sought repose and would there have shared 
the fate of the old oxen. Large clusters of bones found in such 
spots indicate that this had indeed happened, that their dead- 
liest enemy was the snow. 

"To repeat, the great herds that went north in 1 870-1 
never returned. There is no evidence that any large numbers 
of them were killed by hunters, red or white, and there is, 
therefore, but one reasonable explanation of their disappear- 
ance. They were exterminated by the blizzards of 1872. 

" Further, I believe that, at all times, the Dakota blizzard 
has taken heavier toll of the Buffalo than even the Dakota 
Indian did." 

No one who has seen the Northern blizzard will question 
its terrible power. I have lived through several and agree with 
Bunn that a winter with a long succession of these snow- 
siroccos might in certain circumstances destroy every Bison on 
the range before spring. But blizzards did not happen every 
winter^ and they were restricted to a certain limited treeless 
area lying far north and of heavy snow-fall. So that I doubt 
whether, upon the whole, the destruction by blizzards was com- 
parable with that of other agencies which were of more regular 
occurrence and covered a large part, or all, of the Buffalo 


270 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

WOLVES Every Buffalo band was followed by Wolves that picked 

off the young, the weak, and the wounded, and thus kept the 
herds up to a good physical standard. But the numbers killed 
by Wolves was not great. 

PRAIRIE Prairie fires not only destroyed the food of the Buffalo, but 

were the source of direct danger to the animal, as we realize in 
reading this extract from Henry's "Journal":" 

"November 25, 1804. Plains burned in every direction 
and blind Buffalo seen every moment wandering about. The 
poor beasts have all the hair singed off; even the skin in many 
places is shrivelled up and terribly burned, and their eyes are 
swollen and closed fast. It was really pitiful to see them stag- 
gering about, sometimes running afoul of a large stone, and 
other times tumbling down hill and falling into creeks, not yet 
frozen over. In one spot we found a whole herd lying dead. 
The fire having passed only yesterday, these animals were still 
good and fresh, and many of them exceedingly fat. Our road 
was the summit of the Hair Hills [Pembina Mt.], where the 
open ground is uneven and intercepted by many small creeks 
running eastward. The country is stony and barren. At sun- 
set we arrived at the Indian camp, having made an extraordi- 
nary day's ride, and seen an incredible number of dead and 
dying, blind, lame, singed, and roasted Buffalo. The fire 
raged all night toward the S. W." 

Hind, in 1859, made similar observations:^^ 
" Blind Buffalo [he says] are frequently found accompany- 
ing herds, and sometimes they are met with alone. Their eyes 
have been destroyed by prairie fires; but their quickened sense 
of hearing, and smell, and their increased alertness enable 
them to guard against danger, and makes it more difficult to 
approach them in quiet weather than those possessing sight. 
The hunters think that blind Buffalo frequently give the alarm 
when they are stealthily approaching a herd in an undulating 
country. When galloping over stony ground, blind Buffalo 

"A. Henry's Journal, p. 253. 

■*' Ass. & Sask. Expl. Exped., 1859, p. 107. 



Bv Ernest Thompson Seton. 

Buffalo 271 

frequently fall, but when quietly feeding they avoid the stones 
and boulders with wonderful skill." 

The obstinate adherence to one course that characterized bogs 
the Buffalo often led many to their death in the treacherous 
bogs. Hornaday says^'' that, in the summer of 1867, "over 
2,000 Buffalo, out of a herd of about 4,000, lost their lives in the 
quicksand of the Platte River, near Plum Creek, while attempt- 
ing to cross. * * * jj- ^^g ^ common thing for the voy- 
agers on the Missouri River to see the Buffalo hopelessly mired 
in the quicksands or mud along the shore." I doubt not 
that every great bog and quicksand in the Central Northwest 
will prove on drainage to be a Buffalo bone-yard containing 
countless bones that date from the earliest days. 

The primitive Indian was far from being the greatest enemy ixdians 
of the Buffalo. Armed with bow and arrow or lance, and without 
the aid of a horse, he could scarcely count solely on the Buffalo 
for his livelihood. In winter, when snow was deep, he could 
pursue the animals on snow-shoes and slay them easily enough. 
But there was rarely sufficient snow for this; all the circum- 
stances precluded the possibility of great destruction of Buffalo 
life by this means. Moreover, the opportunities for such 
slaughter were confined to the north. On rare occasions, the 
tribe could unite and form a Buffalo pound. But there was 
usually a sufficiency of small game to make this great effort 
not worth the while; and I doubt not that, before the coming 
of the horse and the rifle, the Red man did little harm to the 
great Bison herds. These two principal aids arrived together 
on the Buffalo range, about the close of the eighteenth century, 
and they marked the beginning of the epoch of extirpatory 
slaughter by man. 

By far the worst destroyer of the Buffalo in ancient days rivers 
was treacherous ice in the spring. All winter the Buffalo 
herds of the colder range were accustomed fearlessly to cross 

^''Ext. N. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 421. 

272 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and recross the ice-bound rivers. Springtime comes with the 
impulse to wander farther north; the herds are more com- 
pacted now; they slowly travel on their route; river after 
river is crossed at first. But a change sets in; the ice grows 
rotten; to all appearance it is the same, but it will no longer 
bear the widely extended herd; the van goes crashing through 
to death, and thousands more are pushed in by the oncoming 
herd behind. 

The records of early travellers, we now realize, have much 
on this subject. But the best I can find is still from the garru- 
lous and ever-delightful Henry:" 

"March 28, 1801. — It [the ice on Red River] continued 
to drift on the 3 1 st, bearing great numbers of dead Buffalo from 
above, which must have been drowned in attempting to cross 
while the ice was weak. * * * 

"Wednesday, April ist. The river clear of ice, but 
drowned Buffalo continue to drift by, entire herds. Several 
are lodged on the banks near the fort. The women cut up 
some of the fattest for their own use; the flesh appeared to be 
fresh and good. It is really astonishing what vast numbers 
have perished. They formed one continuous line in the cur- 
rent for two days and nights. One of my men found a herd 
that had fallen through the ice in Park River, and all had 
been drowned; they were sticking in the ice which had not 
yet moved in that part." 

"When they [The Mandans on the Missouri] collect the 
driftwood, great numbers of drowned Buffalo that have per- 
ished in attempting to cross above when the ice was getting bad 
float down; those animals the natives are very careful to haul 
on shore, as they prefer such flesh to that killed in any other 

April 7th. The women continue to cut up drowned 
Buffalo to make tallow. 

April 18th. Rain; drowned Buffalo still drifting down 
the River, but not in such vast numbers as before, many 
having lodged on the banks and along the beach. 

" A. Henry's Journal, 1897, p. 174. ** Ibid., p. 341. 

Buffalo 273 

April 25th. Drowned Buffalo drift down River day 
and night, 

"May 1st, 1801. The stench from the vast numbers of 
drowned Buffalo along the river was intolerable.^" 

"2d. Two hunters arrived * * * from Grandes 
Fourches. * * * They tell me the number of Buffalo 
lying along the beach and on the banks above passes all 
imagination. They form one continuous line and emit a 
horrible stench. I am informed that every spring it is about the 

The distance was 35 miles and a Buffalo every 10 yards 
on each side would be within the terms of the description. 
This would total over 20,000 carcasses. 

Dr. E. Coues, commenting on this in a footnote, says:^^ 

"This account is not exaggerated. John McDonnell's 
Journal, when he was describing Qu'Appelle River, states 
May 18, 1795: "Observing a good many carcasses of Buffalo 
in the river and along the banks, I was taken up the whole 
day in counting them, and, to my surprise, found I had 
numbered when we put up at night 7,360, drowned and 
mired along the river and in it. It is true, in one or two 
places, I went on shore and walked from one carcass to another, 
where they lay from three to five files deep. (Masson I, 1889, 
p. 294.)" 

For generations the dwellers on the Missouri River were 
familiar with the yearly flood that bore countless Buffalo hulks 
to be packed away in the Mississippi mud, that in some far 
geological day will be the rock, all stored and storied with 
unnumbered bones. Now we know that all the northern 
rivers made their death-trap every spring; and, since their 
sum of length must have been not less than 20,000 miles, we 
can form an estimate of the prodigious slaughter that was 
caused by rotten ice. Clearly, the destruction by Nature's 
own means was so great that the Buffalo can have done no 
more than barely hold its own in the fight; and when the 
rifle also came upon the scene, its doom was sealed. 

*^Ibid., p. 177. ^^ Ibid., p. 177. '■'Ibid., p. 174 

274 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

LIFE- It was during the migrations alone that the very large 

herds were seen. Bands of a few thousand were found at all 
seasons, but the millions came together only on some great 
general impulse. 

Let us follow one of the herds moving northward to its 
summer home from the sheltered bottom-lands along the 
Missouri, in Central Dakota, where it had wintered. 

Before there is yet any visible spring in the land the spirit 
of unrest comes on the animals. It may be that the final touch 
is given by a warm, sunny day. Some old cow, with a bunch of 
from 50 to 100 followers, turns her nose northward. Their 
grunting spreads an epidemic of unrest, and from every valley 
a long, black string pours forth. As they top the uplands, 
others and yet others come to view. The general move is north- 
ward, but their disposition is to condense into one herd. As 
night comes down, black and chill, they leave the exposed ridges 
and shelter in the hollows. Cold weather and more snow may 
follow, but the impulse to travel possesses them now. Once it is 
given command, it changes not in force or direction till the re- 
membered pastures are reached. Rivers may cross their path. 
These, if frozen, are unnoticed; if open, they are swum; if 
covered with rotten ice, the ice is broken eventually by the 
weight of the herd, and many are drowned, but the rest swim 
through and continue their march. An onset of hunters may 
swerve them for a time, but it does not change their main trend. 

For three or four weeks this continues, and the blackening 
horde comes swarming down the long level prairies of the Red 
River Valley. Now they are nearing their familiar summer 
haunts, and the bands which united originally to form the herd, 
begin to quit that main body. Again some old leader cow sets 
the example; and, stringing after her, come many cows and 
yearlings, mostly relatives by blood. Finally come a dozen 
bulls, mostly relatives by marriage. 

cow In a broad sense, it will be seen that this small local herd 

THE is a family, or rather, a clan. Their leader is always an old 
^^^^ cow — there is abundance of evidence for this — doubtless she is 

Sfiiki-Luli I 


Fig. ioi — Series of Buffalo horns. 
Redrawn from Extermination of the American Bison, by W. T. Hornaday. 

'. V 


': \ 

Fig. 102 — Freak horn from Saskatchewan. 
In collection of James Hargraves, of Medicine Hat. 

PiQ 103 — Freak Buffalo horn found on the Black Plateau. 

Collected in 1895 by Frank H. M.iycr. 

Drawn from photograph in Outdoor Life. 


276 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the grandmother of many of them. As Long says," " Cows are 
often seen accompanied by the calves of three seasons." The 
males remain with the females and take an active interest in 
the young. Animals know and stay with their personal ac- 
quaintances; they resent the approach of strangers; migrants 
work back to their birthplace; whenever a local band of 
Buffalo was wiped out, their pasturage remained vacant for 
years, so it is unlikely that this group is finally scattered during 
the annual herding. The evidence derived from common 
range cattle sustains this idea; for, in spite of the annual 
round-ups which correspond to the annual herding of the 
Buffalo, we usually find the same little bunch of cattle (easily 
distinguishable by their marks) on the same feeding-ground 
season after season. Finally, the Bison is polygamous, or 
probably promiscuous, so that those living together are sure 
to be much interrelated, that is, they form a clan. 

The blood-and-clan feeling of the group, therefore, I 
think well established; but, because it has been questioned, 
I was glad, long after the above was written, to find the fol- 
lowing penned by an undoubted authority, Buffalo Jones :^^ 

" Each small group is of the same strain of blood. There 
is no animal in the world more clannish than the Buffalo. 
The male calf follows the mother until two years old, when he 
is driven out of the herd, and the parental tie is then entirely 
broken. The female calf fares better, as she is permitted to 
stay with her mother's family for life, unless by some acci- 
dent she becomes separated from the group. 

"The resemblance of each individual of a family is very 
striking, while the difference between families is as apparent 
to the practised eye as is the Caucasian from the MongoHan 
race of people. 

" These groups are as quickly separated from the great herd 
after a stampede as is a company of soldiers from its regiment 
at the close of 'dress parade.' The several animals know each 
other by scent and sound; they grunt similarly to a hog, but 
in a much stronger tone, and are quickly recognized by every 

"*' Exped. Rocky Mts., 1823, p. 473. " Buff. Jones Advt., 1899, p. 234. 

Buffalo 277 

member of the family. When separated by a stampede or 
other cause, they never rest until they are all together again. 

"A pathetic sight was sometimes witnessed when the 
mother of one of these families was killed at the first shot. 
They were so devoted to her, they would linger and wait until 
the last one could be easily slain." 

So far as I can learn a band does not further disintegrate. 
It rambles about, in a radius of perhaps lo miles from its 
favourite drinking place; and, wherever it goes, it is followed 
by one or two ever watchful Gray-wolves. 

Some time in April usually, though possibly as early as gesta- 
January and as late as August, the full-grown cow has finished 
her 9^ months' gestation.^* True to a universal instinct, she 
slinks off by herself to some slight hollow, for such there are 
even on the levellest prairie, and there is born the calf, or on 
some rare occasions twin calves. 

The labour is remarkably short and easy. Dr. Frank Baker 
writes that normally it occupies from 25 to 45 minutes. A 
recent case in the National Zoological Park was timed by the 
head keeper, Blackburne, who says that "the calf had been 
cleaned and was nursing 26 minutes after the cow stopped 
eating hay and lay down." Thus, in less than an hour the 
mother is able and ready to meet any enemy that may come to 
injure her young. Chief among these are the Gray or Buffalo- 
wolves. From one or two of these she is very well able to guard 
her calf, but half-a-dozen give a serious aspect to the situation, the 
even though she stand with the little one under her body. 
Usually, however, help is at hand. Her loud angry snort or 
threatening bellow will quickly bring the bulls to her aid. And 
the effectiveness of their response may be judged by the follow- 
ing incident related'^ by an army surgeon to Colonel Dodge: 

"He was one evening returning to camp after a day's 
hunt, when his attention was attracted by the curious action 

" Dr. W. T. Homaday tells me of a case in which the gestation was prolonged to ten 
months and three weeks. 

" Plains of the Great West, p. 125. 


278 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of a little knot of 6 or 8 Buffalo. Approaching sufficiently near 
to see clearly, he discovered that this little knot were all bulls, 
standing in a close circle with their heads outwards, while in 
a concentric circle at some 12 or 15 paces distant, sat, licking 
their chops in impatient expectancy, at least a dozen large 
Gray-wolves (excepting man, the most dangerous enemy of 
the Buffalo). 
THE "The doctor determined to watch the performance. 

After a few moments the knot broke up, and, still keeping in a 
compact mass, started on a trot for the main herd, some half a 
mile off. To his very great astonishment, the doctor now saw 
that the central and controlling figure of this mass was a poor 
little calf, so newly born as scarcely to be able to walk. After 
going 50 to 100 paces the calf lay down, the bulls disposed 
themselves in a circle as before, and the Wolves who had 
trotted along on each side of their retreating supper, sat down 
and licked their chops again; and so, though the doctor did not 
see the finale, it being late and the camp distant, he had no 
doubt that the noble fathers did their whole duty by their 
offspring, and carried it safely to the herd." 

Fremont records a similar incident that he observed on the 
Platte River in 1842. In this case, however, the Wolves were 
too numerous for the would-be rescuer and the affair had a 
tragic end: 

*' July 4. While we were at breakfast [he says ^^], a Buffalo 
calf broke through the camp, followed by a couple of Wolves. 
In its fright it had probably mistaken us for a band of Buffalo. 
The Wolves were obliged to make a circuit around the camp, 
so that the calf got a little to start, and strained every nerve to 
reach a large herd at the foot of the hills, about 2 miles distant; 
but first one, and then another, and another Wolf joined in the 
chase, until his pursuers amounted to 20 or 30, and they ran 
him down before he could reach his friends. There were a 
few Bulls near the place, and one of them attacked the Wolves 
and tried to rescue him; but was driven off immediately, and 
the little animal fell an easy prey, half devoured before he was 

""Fremont's Epl. Exped., 1845, P- 22. 

Buffalo 279 

dead. We watched the chase with the interest always felt for 
the weak; and had there been a saddled horse at hand, he 
would have fared better." 

In both cases the mother seemed to be missing. Some the 
observers think her negligent of her duties. There is, indeed, 
great individual variation in this respect; but, ordinarily, she 
is the best protector the little one can have and is afraid of 
nothing when the calf is threatened. Yet many times she 
acts in a dumb, cowed way, especially when the assailant of 
the youngster is a man. 

James K. Darnell, of Breckenridge, related to me that in 
the early 70's, when he was cow-punching on the Plains, the 
Buffalo were very plentiful. He often amused himself by 
roping the calves. When one was caught he would jump off, 
remove the lasso, and hold it with his hands. The mother 
would stand at a distance of 100 yards gazing anxiously, 
neither cow nor calf making any sound. As soon as he let the 
calf go, the mother seeing it was free, knew it would take care 
of itself, and turning tail, went off at full gallop, without even 
looking behind. 

Had the calf by bellowing made it clear to his mother 
that he was in peril of his life, I fancy it would have made a 
profound change in her demeanor. 

In proof of this is an experience recorded in Buffalo 
Jones's Adventures," while on his last expedition to capture 
Buffalo alive. It shows that the cow Buffalo is no respecter of 
persons when once her dull wit has grasped the idea that they 
are unworthy of respect: 

When the last calf was lassoed its mother rushed furiously 
to the rescue. After the horseman had vainly tried to drive 
her off, Colonel Jones very unwillingly drew his revolver and 
shot her dead. 

Nor does the maternal instinct suffer when the animal is 
tamed and taught a less distrust of man, as Jones expressly 

says : *** 

"Adv. BuflFalo Jones, 1899, p. 135. ^ Ibid., p. 235. 

280 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"Sometimes when I now lasso a calf of those in domestica- 
tion and attempt to lead it away, the mother will quickly place 
herself in front of her baby and thrust a horn under and often 
through the loop of the rope, and hold the horse and rider 
perfectly solid, while, if the rope is slackened, she in some 
instances will free the calf entirely." 

Thus we have seen that the mother, and all the possible 
fathers and uncles, are ready to do their duty in protecting the 
calf. Now comes Buffalo Jones to attest that the aunts also 
are quick to respond, so that the ideal of family feeling is com- 
plete in the Buffalo, thus setting him in high and honourable 
contrast to most other polygamous animals; offering, indeed, 
some refutation to the dictum that such a marriage arrange- 
ment is a foredoomed failure. 

" Often [says Colonel Jones ^"J have I so crippled a calf that 
it was impossible for it to follow the herd, and its pitiful bleating 
would hold the family until I could kill all desired. Should 
the calf be wounded in the fore or hind parts, the old cow 
would actually support the parts so crippled, and it would walk 
away on the normal parts by such aid." 

Once the calf is strong on its feet, and that means when 
three or four days old, its life is with the herd, and it is effectu- 
ally guarded. Ordinarily, when the old ones lie down for the 
night, they may be scattered, but the near appearance of a 
Gray-wolf is enough to make them rearrange their places, con- 
densing their band — the bulls, as a matter of course, now taking 
the outside. 

"In pursuing a large herd of Buffaloes [says Catlin*°], at 
the season when their calves are but a few weeks old, I have 
often been exceedingly amused with the curious mancEuvres 
of these shy little things. Amidst the thundering confusion of 
a throng of several hundreds or several thousands of these 
animals, there will be many of the calves that lose sight of their 
dams; and being left behind by the throng, and the swift 
passing hunters, they endeavour to secrete themselves, when 
they are exceedingly put to it on a level prairie, where nought 

'^ Ibid., 235. «" N. A. Indians, 1866, Vol. I, p. 255. 

Buffalo 281 

can be seen but the short grass of six or eight inches in height, 
save an occasional bunch of wild sage a few inches higher, to 
which the poor, affrighted things will run, and dropping on 
their knees, will push their noses under it, and into the grass, 
where they will stand for hours with their eyes shut, imagining 
themselves securely hid, whilst they are standing up quite 
straight upon their hind feet and can easily be seen at several 
miles' distance. It is a familiar amusement for us, accustomed 
to these scenes, to retreat back over the ground where we have 
just escorted the herd, and approach these little trembling 
things, which stubbornly maintain their positions, with their 
noses pushed under the grass, and their eyes strained upon 
us, as we dismount from our horses and are passing around 
them. From this fixed position they are sure not to move, until 
hands are laid upon them, and then for the shins of a novice we 
can extend our sympathy; or if he can preserve the skin on his 
bones from the furious butting of its head, we know how to 
congratulate him on his signal success and good luck. In 
these desperate struggles for a moment the little thing is con- 
quered, and makes no further resistance. And I have often, 
in concurrence with a known custom of the country, held my 
hands over the eyes of the calf, and breathed a few strong 
breaths into its nostrils; after which I have, with my hunting 
companions, rode several miles into our encampment, with 
the little prisoner busily following the heels of my horse the 
whole way, as closely and affectionately as its instinct would 
attach it to the company of its dam." 

Alex. Henry mentions expressly °^ that the mothers come 
back in search of their young after the hunt is over. 

In the early spring the life of the herds is pleasant. 
Weather is bright and warm; insect pests are unknown. 
Before the snow is quite gone, the crocus or sandflower is green- 
ing the plains again, and in a week changing their colour with 
its teeming bloom; a hundred others follow in quick succession 
with their rich and succulent growth. The Buffalo grow 

" Loc. cit., p. 177. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Fig. 104 — Cattalo cow in herd of Buffalo Jones. 

From pen-and-ink sketch by Ernest Thompson Seton. 

(Courtesy of the United States National Museum.) 

fatter every day. All the early morning they graze. Toward 
ten o'clock they lie down and chew their cud; about noon the 
old cow will arise and march toward the water with the band 
behind her. She does not go far among the many deep-worn 

Buffalo trails before 
finding one which 
is headed her way. 
She follows it; the 
others come string- 
ing along single file 
behind her. The 
only exception to 
the single rank is 
made by the young 
calves, which run 
and frisk along be- 
side their mothers. It may be miles to the watering place, but 
the herd marches steadily and with purpose. After all have 
drunk their fill, they may lie down again in the neighbour- 
hood, or maybe they will wander back to some prairie swell, on 
whose northern side the sun is a little less warm or the western 

breeze a little stronger, and 
there they scatter and lie 
down for a two hours' rest, 
till the herd is reminded of 
its own growing hunger per- 
haps by some young ''spike- 
horn" rising to resume the 
quest for food. Or, maybe, 
the final ounce of push that 
moves the landslide is sup- 
plied even by some little calf, 
who, desiring drink, uses vigorous means to make his mother 
take the posture needful to serve him. 

I remember once watching a young calf that besought his 
mother for food by pushing her neck as she lay. She brushed 
him away with a swing of her head. He tried farther back. 

Fig. 105 — The big bull collected by W. T. Hornaday. 

From pen-and-ink sketch by Ernest Thompson Seton. 

(Courtesy of the United States National Museum.) 



where, indeed, he could smell the refreshment that he needed; 
but it was effectively barricaded from him. Again he rubbed 
and leaned against his mother's neck in mute appeal; again she 
mutely said, "Don't bother me," and flung him afar with a 
swing of her massive woolly jowl. 

Then did that small calf rise to the emergency in a way 
that filled me with glee; for, standing just beyond the sweep of 
mother's impatient horns, he backed and charged again and 
again, butting and pounding, with his tiny budding "nubbins" 
of horns, against her flank — her only tender spot — until she could 
stand it no longer and leaped to her feet. Now, of course, the 
object he had in view was easily within 
his reach; and springing into place, but 
well forward out of reach of her first im- 
patient but half-hearted kick, he tugged 
away. The mother's love was stirred in 
response, and her forgiveness of him was 
complete — it arrived, indeed, before his 
punishment, so that it came not at all. 

Another glimpse of the family life 
(or at least, the Indian opinion of it) is 
afforded by the following from the pen 
of C. E. Denny. Referring to the rare 
and beautiful "Beaver robe" already 
mentioned, he says:*^ 

"The robe was nearly always of a cow, very fine and very 
light. Many explanations were given by the hunters for this 
peculiar coat, and the right one was no doubt that given by 
Montana Indians — that it was caused by the constant licking 
of many animals in the herd, to which some motherless calf 
belonged, it having become the pet of the band, the animals 
testifying their liking in that manner." 

Fig. io6 — Cattalo yearling in herd of 
Buffalo Jones. 

(Courtesy of the United States National 



In all this pastoral scene, there is a flock of small black cow- 
birds, "cowbirds" or "buffalo-birds" they are called. They 
haunt the Buffalo as negroes do a Mississippi raft-house, 

" Forest and Stream, May 8, 1897, P- 3^2. 

284 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

sometimes on it, sometimes on the nearest land, but always 
moving when it moved, and recognizing it as headquarters. 

The cowbird {Molothrus ater) is a well-known member of 
the Starling family. It is peculiar in this — it never mates, 
makes a nest, or brings up its own young. Free love is its 
habit; and, when the female is ready to lay, she searches for 
the nest of some small bird, and in it abandons her offspring to 
a foundling's chances with a strange foster-mother. Then — 
back she hikes to the merry group that lives and revels around 
the Buffalo herd. Sometimes the cowbirds walk sedately 
behind their grazing monster; sometimes they flit over snap- 
ping at flies; often they sit in a line along the ridge-pole of his 
spine. Their attachment to the Buffalo was so close that an 
Indian myth tells of their nesting in the wool between the horns 
of the big bull — rather a fearsome home-site, one would think, 
during a combat of the bull with some huge rival. But there 
are some foundations for the myth. First, they do not nest 
elsewhere; furthermore, I am told by "old timers" that 
skulls of Buffalo, still clad in their black shock of hair, were 
often used by little birds as nesting-places. 

One more incident: In the park at Silver Heights, near 
Winnipeg, is a herd of a dozen Buffalo. All summer they are 
followed by the usual flock of cowbirds, which fly southward 
when cold weather arrives. But when the autumn of 1900 
came, one stayed when the others left. All through that 
Manitoba winter it remained with the Buffalo, especially with 
the biggest bull of the herd. Its food was of the Buffalo's 
food; by day it flitted near or warmed its toes in the wool of 
the animal's back; by night, it snuggled on a sort of hollow 
it had made in the wool just behind his horns. The Buffalo 
was protector of the bird against famine, frost, and the attacks 
of both animal and human foes; for he was so fierce that 
none dared go near him, even to inspect more closely the 
cowbird that had committed itself to his charge. This inci- 
dent is attested by Dr. S. J. Thompson, the veterinary of the 
Province, by George Grieve, the taxidermist, and by T. A. 
Prescott, the keeper. 


I. Study of an old cow. 2. Young cow. 3. Buffalo cow (Jardin des Plantes, March 25, 1S92.) 4. Old cow. 

The first act in wallowing. 
From a photograph by R. L. Walker, of Carnegie, Pennsylvania. 

Buffalo 285 

Grieve tells me that he thinks the bird was wounded and 
unable to fly when its kinsfolk went south, and so made the best 
of the situation; and not so very bad it proved, for it was fat 
and fit in the spring. 

As the summer grows warm the Buffalo shed their coats 
in great broad flakes or wads of mothy-looking felt, till the 
hinder half of their bodies becomes positively naked. And 
now the mosquito millions are turned loose. I suppose that 
even a rhinoceros would be annoyed by these long-beaked 
stingers of the lush wet prairies, and the Buffalo, with their 
naked rears, are driven to accept any promise of relief. Stand- 
ing on a high knoll in a strong wind is said to be "good medi- 
cine" for the flies. But such a combination is not always 
available, and, besides, it prevents feeding. A much more 
convenient protection is a supplementary coat of mud. 

Catlin's description of the Buffalo habit of "doping for the 
flies" is old, but worthy of repetition, for he saw it in its highest 
development and on numberless occasions: 

" In the heat of summer [he says ^] these huge animals, 
which, no doubt, suffer very much with the great profusion 
of their long and shaggy hair or fur, often graze on the low 
grounds in the prairies, where there is a little stagnant water 
lying amongst the grass, and the ground underneath being 
saturated with it, is soft, into which the enormous bull, lowered 
down upon one knee, will plunge his horns, and at last his head, 
driving up the earth, and soon making an excavation in the 
ground, into which the water filters from amongst the grass, 
forming for him in a few moments a cool and comfortable 
bath, into which he plunges like a hog in his mire. 

"In this delectable laver he throws himself flat upon his 
side, and forcing himself violently around, with his horns and 
his huge hump on his shoulders, presented to the sides, he 
ploughs up the ground by his rotary motion, sinking himself 
deeper and deeper in the ground, continually enlarging his 
pool, in which he at length becomes nearly immersed. And 

"N. A. Indians, Vol. I, p. 249-50. 


286 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the water and mud about him mixed into a complete mortar, 
which changes his colour, and drips in streams from every part 
of him as he rises up upon his feet a hideous monster of mud 
and ugliness, too frightful and too eccentric to be described." 

This practice seems to have been much more popular with 
the bulls than with the cows — a fact which seems to prove that 
the flies alone were not the cause of it. The bulls were more 
heavily clad with wool on the fore parts and suffered more, 
therefore, from the heat. Also they gathered more of the prickly 
seeds that are an active irritant of the skin. Chief among these 
on the northern Plains is the ** spear grass" or "wild oats" 
(Sttpa spartea). In July it seeds abundantly. Each seed is 
like an oat, with a sharp corkscrew point and a long barley awn, 
but set everywhere with fine bristles pointing backward. 
When this contrivance touches the wool of a Buffalo, its barbs 
at once cling, and by a complete hygroscopic mechanism, 
first carefully studied by Miller Christy,®^ it revolves seven or 
eight times in an hour, boring through the wool and finally reach- 
ing the skin. Every prairie man remembers the sharp prick of 
the spear-grass — first its corkscrew penetrates his clothing; then 
it attacks his person. Every sheep-owner, too, can testify that it 
keeps on boring, even through the skin, till an angry, irritating 
sore is produced. This aggressive plant was, no doubt, one of the 
plagues that drove the Buffalo to the wallows. A proof of this, 
as Christy points out, is seen in the fact that the old wallows are 
rimmed about with an unusually thick and vigorous growth of 
spear-grass. The newer generation calls them *' fairy-rings." 

RUBBING The wallow was not the only offset. Rubbing places were 
in great demand. It is well known that the posts of all the 
first telegraph-lines across the Plains were thrown down, again 
and again, by the Bufifalo rubbing against them. Even when 
the poles were protected by sharp spikes, the big brutes were 
not deterred from availing themselves of these delightfully con- 
venient scratching posts — they were, indeed, attracted rather 

^* On the power of penetrating the bodies of animals possessed by the seed of Stipa 
spartea. Read before the Linnasan Society, London, February 21, 1884. 

Buffalo 287 

than repelled by the additional tang thus given. Further, as 
every settler on the Plains of the Souris knows, the boulders 
there are smooth and have a hollow worn around them, by 
the scrubbing and trampling of Buffalo for generations, avail- 
ing themselves of the chance for a vigorous rub. Old travellers 
along the Red River tell of all the trees being rubbed smooth, 
like those in a farmyard. There is, indeed, little doubt that 
the Buffalo have helped to extend the prairies and to reduce 
the woodland country by rubbing down the trees. 

In sanitation the Buffalo is very low, its excretions being samt.v 


left anywhere. Such is the rule among creatures that have 
nothing of the nature of a nest or home-point. 

The only approach to social amusement that I have ever amuse- 
heard of was that described to me by Charles Norris, a cowboy ' 
of New Mexico, who, in 1886, watched a band of Buffalo at 
their watering-place. After drinking very heavily, he says, 
they played about like calves, and a number of them amused 
themselves by jumping off a steep bank into the water four feet 
below, running round to climb the bank at a low place, and 
repeating the performance many times. 

The Buffalo bull is so exemplary in his behaviour toward mating 
the calf that some observers believed the species to be monog- 
amous. Thus Audubon and Bachman say:®^ 

"The Bison bulls generally select a mate from among a 
herd of cows and do not leave their chosen one until she is 
about to calf. 

"When two or more males fancy the same female, furious 
battles ensue, and the conqueror leads off the fair cause of the 
contest, in triumph. 

*{> 5jC *^C JjC JfC *7* f* 

"It frequently happens that a bull leads off a cow, and 
remains with her, separated during the season from all others, 
either male or female." 
" Quad. N. A., Vol. II, pp. 37-38. 

288 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Others maintain that there is no mating and that the 
species is promiscuous. Yet others assert that extreme polyg- 
amy is the rule — that the strongest bull drives the rest out and 
holds the herd as his harem. 

COMBATS That great battles take place there can be no doubt. 
The annual ferment, the disturber of so much animal peace, 
sets in during July — earlier in the south, later in the north — and 
continues about two months. Catlin's picture is that of a man 
who had seen it many times: 

**The 'running season,^ which is in August and September 
[he says®''], is the time when they congregate into such masses, 
in some places, as literally to blacken the prairies for miles 
together. It is no uncommon thing at this season, at these 
gatherings, to see several thousands in a mass, eddying and 
wheeling about under a cloud of dust, which is raised by the 
bulls, as they are pawing in the dirt, or engaged in desperate 
combats, as they constantly are, plunging and butting at each 
other in the most furious manner. In these scenes the males 
are continually following the females, and the whole mass are 
in a constant motion; and all bellowing (or 'roaring') in deep 
and hollow sounds; which, mingled all together, appear, at the 
distance of a mile or two, like the sound of distant thunder." 
Fremont's description is given even more detailed:"^ 
"July 7, 1842. — In the course of the afternoon, dust rising 
among the hills at a particular place attracted our attention; 
and, riding up, we found a band of 18 or 20 Buffalo bulls 
engaged in a desperate fight. Though butting and goring 
were bestowed liberally, and without distinction, yet their 
efforts were evidently directed against one — a huge, gaunt old 
bull, very lean, while his adversaries were all fat and in good 
order. He appeared very weak, and had already received 
some wounds, and, while we were looking on, was several times 
knocked down and badly hurt, and a very few moments would 
have put an end to him. Of course we took the side of 
the weaker party, and attacked the herd; but they were so 

*" N. A. Indians, Vol. I, p. 249. " Expl. Exped., 1845, P- 26. 

Buffalo 289 

blind with rage that they fought on, utterly regardless of our 
presence, although on foot and on horseback we were firing in 
open view within twenty yards of them. But this did not last 
long. In a very few seconds we created a commotion among 
them. One or two, which were knocked over by the balls 
jumped up, ran off into the hills; and they began to retreat 
slowly along a broad ravine to the river, fighting furiously 
as they went. By the time they had reached the bottom 
we had pretty well dispersed them, and the old bull hobbled 
off to he down somewhere." 

The question arises. Who was that old bull ? I suspect 
that he was the great-grandfather of many of those who were 
ill-treatmg him, and further, that he ill-treated his own great- 
grandfather in precisely the same way. 

T. ^T^^'^'^ """ Antelope Island, in Salt Lake, a herd of politics 
Buffalo which numbered 28 in 1905. Friends in Salt Lake 
City have given me an idea of what has been going on in that 
herd, ever since they were turned loose and left free to resume 
their tribal life, a dozen years ago. The strongest bull takes 
possession of all the best things-the wallow, the choice food 
the shady spot in summer, the sheltered nook in winter, and the 
majority of the cows. He would take all, if he had the wit, and 
the cows accepted his view of the matter. The lesser 
bulls keep out of his way and take what they can get of his 
leavings. From time to time, some growing lusty young 
fellow tries a bout with the ''boss" and usually gets the worst 
of It But a time comes, soon or late, when the "boss 
IS licked." He is driven out of the herd and far away from 
It, forbidden to return at the peril of his life, and the new 
king reigns in his stead, to tyrannize over the cows and 
the lesser bulls as he did before. The reign of each "boss" 
IS usually two or three years. I have no doubt that this 
explains the clan-life of the Buffalo. It is a well-known fact 
that any solitary Buffalo seen on the plains was always an 
outcast old bull— doubtless one that had been originally 


290 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

driven out of the herd, and, becoming indifferent to the other 
sex, remained more or less soUtary from choice. 

OLD These old bulls are rarely molested by hunters, human or 

brute. They are too tough for one to eat or for the other to 
kill. But sometimes the Wolves, when hard pressed by hun- 
ger, will unite in a large band and attack even an old bull, if 
no better prey be in sight. Catlin was witness of several of 
these terrific encounters and has left this description:''* 

*' During my travels in these regions I have several times 
come across such a gang of these animals [Wolves] surround- 
ing an old or a wounded bull, where it would seem, from ap- 
pearances, that they had been for several days in attendance, 
and at intervals desperately engaged in the effort to take his life. 
But a short time since, as one of my hunting companions and 
myself were returning to our encampment with our horses 
loaded with meat, we discovered, at a distance, a huge bull 
encircled with a gang of white Wolves. We rode up as near as 
we could without driving them away, and, being within pistol 
shot, we had a remarkably good view, where I sat for a few 
moments and made a sketch in my note book, after which we 
rode up and gave the signal for them to disperse, which they 
instantly did, withdrawing themselves to the distance of fifty or 
sixty rods, when we found, to our great surprise, that the animal 
had made desperate resistance until his eyes were entirely 
eaten out of his head, the grizzle of his nose was mostly gone, 
his tongue was half eaten off, and the skin and flesh of his legs 
torn almost literally into strings. In this tattered and torn 
condition the poor old veteran stood bracing up in the midst 
of his devourers, who had ceased hostilities for a few minutes, 
to enjoy a sort of parley, recovering strength and preparing to 
resume the attack in a few moments again. In this group some 
were reclining to gain breath, whilst others were sneaking about 
and licking their chops in anxiety for a renewal of the attack; 
and others, less lucky, had been crushed to death by the feet 
or the horns of the bull. I rode nearer to the pitiable object 

^N. A. Indians, Vol. I, pp. 257-8. 


L \- 




Buffalo 291 

as he stood bleeding and trembling before me, and said to him 
I^Jow IS your time, old fellow, and you had better be off '* 
1 hough blmd and nearly destroyed, there seemed evidently 
to be a recognition of a friend in me, as he straightened up and 
trembling with excitement, dashed off at full speed upo'n the 
prairie, in a straight line. We turned our horses and resumed 
our march, and when we had advanced a mile or more we 
looked back and on our left, where we saw again the ill-fkted 
animal surrounded by his tormentors, to whose insatiable 
voracity he unquestionably soon fell a victim." 

During August and September the herd has consisted of autumn 
all ages and sexes intermixed. As September wanes, the males 
lose interest in their partners, and now for the first time we 
find the clan divided, the males in one herd, the females in 
another. Their lives go on as before, but they meet and pass 
without mixing. The bulls are at this time poor in flesh and 
subdued m spirit, but the rich pasturage to which they most 
assiduously devote themselves begins to improve their condi- 
tion. By October the good fare shows in all. Their new 
growing coats are sleek, their bodies reinvigorated their 
tempers more sociable, and, when late November frosts send 
forth the word to move, it is usual to find the clan reunited 
rnoving as before with the old great-grandmother in advance- 
the young ones scattered through it, the father and grandfather 
behind ; and the dethroned great-great-great-grandfather roam- 
ing alone in the offing. 

These solitaries were probably far over twenty years of age 
age. Domestic bulls continue to breed till considerably over 
a dozen years old. These were past breeding, and the Buffalo 
seems to have been longer lived than the ordinary bovine 
The Hon. R. F. Pettigrew, of South Dakota, tells me that a 
Buffalo bull calf that he caught in 1 882 was still living in Buffalo 
City Zoo in 1902, and by its continued vigour gave every 
promise of a much more extended life. The cows seem equally 
long-hved. Charles Payne tells me of one that was still 

292 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

breeding and vigorous in her twenty-ninth year. Colonel 
Jones says:'^ "The natural Hfe of the Buffalo is much longer 
than is that of the domestic cattle. I frequently saw animals 
so old their horns had decayed and dropped off, which indicated 
that they live to a patriarchal age. I saw a Buffalo cow in the 
Zoological Garden in Paris which was thirty-one years old, 
and I am sure I have seen wild ones from ten to fifteen years 
older." And since the cow begins to breed at three years and 
has a calf each spring (or every other spring) for about thirty 
years, the diminution of the Buffalo as a wild race cannot be, 
as some have claimed, due to infecundity. 

EXTERMi- The extermination of the Buffalo has been so fully and 
admirably treated by Dr. W. T. Hornaday in his volume of that 
name (1889), that I can do little more than condense his account, 
acknowledge my indebtedness, and add a few later facts. 

About the beginning of the nineteenth century the Buffalo 
were cleared out of all the country east of the Mississippi. 

In 1832, according to Catlin,^'' 150,000 to 200,000 robes 
were marketed each year, which meant a slaughter of 2,000,000 
or perhaps 3,000,000 Buffalo by the Indians. The destruction 
was already so great that Catlin prophesied the extinction of the 
Buffalo "within eight or ten years." The drain was obviously 
more than the natural increase, and already the vast herds 
were shrinking visibly. About 1 834 or 1 835 they began to dimin- 
ish very rapidly on the western slope of the Rockies, as Fremont 
records. But the eastern slope was the great Buffalo range. 
Concerning these two areas this famous explorer writes:^' 

"The extraordinary abundance of the Buffalo on the east 
side of the Rocky Mountains, and their extraordinary diminu- 
tion, will be made clearly evident from the following statement: 
At any time between the years 1824 and 1836 a traveller might 
start from any given point south or north in the Rocky Moun- 
tain range, journeying by the most direct route to the Missouri 
River, and during the whole distance his road would be always 

^8 Buff. Jones's Advt., 1890, pp. 235-6. ^°N. A. Indians, Vol. I, p. 263. 

" Expl. Exped., 1845, PP- i44~S- 

Buffalo 293 

among large bands of Buffalo, which would never be out of his 
view until he arrived almost within sight of the abodes of 

"At this time [1842] the Buffalo occupy but a very 
limited space, principally along the eastern base of the Rocky 
Mountains, sometimes extending at their southern extremity 
to a considerable distance into the Plains between the Platte 
and Arkansas Rivers, and along the eastern frontier of New 
Mexico, as far south as Texas." 

Fremont reckoned the annual market of Buffalo robes 
as 90,000;'' but robes were collected only during the four winter 
months, and not more than a third of those killed at the season 
were skinned, while half of the robes were used at home and 
never sent to market. Therefore, 90,000 robes represented a 
slaughter of about 1,920,000 Buffalo. But the rate of killing 
was so much higher in summer that we may calculate the an- 
nual kill at 2,000,000 or 2,500,000 a year during these palmy 
Buffalo days. The Buffalo Indians had been decreased by 
small-pox, but the white consumers more than made up the 
shortage. Naturally, therefore, the herds shrunk fast. 

In 1842 Fremont found distress among the Indians along 
the Platte on account of failure of the Buffalo."' In 1852 the 
Buffalo was so far from the Red River country that Ross con- 
sidered hunting it a thing of the past. In 1867 the Union 
Pacific Railway reached Cheyenne, penetrating the heart of 
the Buffalo country. It carried unnumbered destroyers with 
it and split the remaining Buffalo into halves. Thenceforth 
it was customary to speak of the "south herd" and the "north 
herd," each of which appeared to recognize a boundary in 
those sinister lines of steel. 

In 1 87 1 the Santa Fe Railway crossed Kansas, the favour- the 
ite summer ground of the southern herd, now reduced to ter 
about 4,000,000, according to Hornaday.'' Then began the 
great slaughter by the white skin-hunters. Taking as a basis 

''Loc. cit., p. 145. "Expl. Exped., 1845, P- MS- 

^* Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, P- 504- 


294 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the railway statistics of shipments and Colonel Dodge's obser- 
vations, Dr. Hornaday has calculated the slaughter of the 
herd as follows :^^ 

1872 iA9^A^9 

1873 1,508,658 

1874 158,583 

Total 3>i58,730 

Killed by the Indians during the same period .... 390,000 
Settlers and Indians 150,000 

Total 3,698,730^' 

These are the lowest estimates that I know of. Colonel 
Jones's figures are about double these. That was practically 
the end of the southern herd. A few scattered bands lingered 
in out-of-the-way places, but were relentlessly hunted down. 
The last considerable herd that I can learn about was in 1886, 
described to me seven years afterward by Charles Norris, 
cowboy, of Clayton, N.M., whose narrative is full of interesting 
detail. The date seemed to me very late for so large a herd, 
but cross-examination did not make him change it. 

THE LAST The last big bunch of Buffalo he ever saw was in the ** Pan- 
SOUTH handle" of Texas. He came on them in May of 1886. He was 
^^^° driving a bunch of horses from Coldwater to Buifalo Springs; 
and, when thirty-five miles east of Buffalo Springs, he saw the 
herd about three miles off, and knew at once they were Buffalo, 
because they were all of one colour. He left the horses with 
the other man, as all he needed was a guide to this place. Next 
day, on returning, Norris saw the Buffalo again about fifteen 
miles farther east, and rode in ajnong them. Some were lying 
down and some were grazing. They seemed about 200 in num- 
ber; 6 only were little calves. As soon as they saw him they 
bunched like cattle and kept on ''milling" around. Then one 
bull made a lead to stampede, but none followed him, so he 

''^Ibid., p. 499. ''^Ihid., p. 501. 

Buffalo 295 

came back to the bunch. Another bull then started from the 
bunch and tried to lead off. He ran about loo yards, but none 
followed him at all, so he also returned to the bunch. Then 
one in the bunch that seemed a third larger than any other there 
led out and all following him, strung out in a semicircle. Norris 
tried to cut across to the middle of it; but instead of running 
right away, part of them hung back and it seemed as if they 
were going to surround him. He thought it wiser then to fall 
back and get out of the ring. Then they strung off after the 
big leader. Norris galloped behind trying to rope a calf, but 
the mother turned on him. He had no gun, and his horse was 
tired, so he gave it up. He noticed that in running they "pawed'* 
with one side low, and after a while changed to the other. After 
they went off he rode on fifteen miles south-east to camp. A. N. 
Cranmer was in charge of the camp, which was by a small lake. 
He said : " This is the only water in this region and they w^ll be 
certain to come in here before three days." So the men waited 
and on the second day, the whole herd appeared. Now they had 
a good chance to count them. There were i86. They drank 
very heavily and then played about like calves. A number 
of them amused themselves by jumping off a bluff into the 
water, four feet below them, then running around up a low 
place to jump off again. As soon as they had seen all they 
wished the men fired, killing a cow and a bull. They then set 
about roping some calves. Norris caught one and Cranmer 
caught two. They had to kill the mother of the last, as she 
showed fight. The herd went off and these men saw no more of 
it. One of the calves died and Norris gave his to Cranmer's 
little boy, who sold it to Goodnight, and the other was traded 
to a passing stranger from Kansas for a span of colts. In 
the November of the same year, on the same trail, Norris saw 
12 head of Buffalo, but has never seen one since. 

The very last individuals that I have knowledge of were 
found in 1889. The account of them I got from W. Allen, 
cowboy, also of Clayton, New Mexico, four years after the 
event. I give it in full. 

296 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

About August 20, while out with a party hunting mustangs, 
in the neutral strip about twelve miles north-east of Buffalo 
Springs, the riders saw four animals, which they supposed were 
mustangs, as they were rolling in the dust. They were about 
three miles away, on the south side of a little knoll. The 
hunters rode around on the north side and got within seventy- 
five yards, to learn that these were four Buffalo. 

They took alarm at once and started off westward, closely 
pursued by the hunters for about three miles, and then met an- 
other man driving a bunch of mustangs. The two bunches, 
mustangs and Buffalo, joined, and the men chased them for two 
miles, when they parted, the mustangs turning to the left, 
keeping up the X I T fence, and the Buffalo going to the right. 
Allen chased these about five miles farther and right into two of 
his own party. The Buffalo circled from them south and west 
three miles back, then right back to the X I T fence again. He 
fired four shots into a cow. She quit the bunch and went two 
miles to a lake, while he chased the three right through the X I T 
fence and left them. The men then returned to the cow at 
the lake; she ran into the deepest water, and stood at bay. 
After resting a short time she came out of the water and they 
shot her. A photographer, who was with the camp, took the 
pictures of the party with the skin and meat in view. That was 
the last Buffalo Allen ever saw. He learned that the three 
were killed later on. 

This ended the last stragglers of the southern herd. 

THE The great northern herd was still in existence after the 


HERD bulk of the southern was wiped out. A colder winter and the 
presence of hostile Indians, which kept away white hunters, 
were their chief protections. Hornaday calculates " the north- 
ern herd at about 1,500,000 in 1870, but most authors put it 
much higher. The Indians, he reckons, were then slaughtering 
them at the rate of 375,000 a year. 

In 1876 the United States troops pacified or drove the 
hostile Indians out of the Missouri country, opening the way 

^' Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, pp. 504-5. 

Buffalo 297 

for the skin hunters. In 1878 the last great herd went south 
from the Saskatchewan, and the few scattered bands left behind 
were killed off by the Indians in 1879. In 1880 the Northern 
Pacific Railway opened a way into the central country of the 
last herd, and the southern story was repeated. 

Condensing Dr. Hornaday's account^** we find that: 

In 1 88 1 hunters shipped out 50,000 

In 1882 " " " 200,000 

In 1883 " " " 40,000 

In 1884 " " " 300 

In 1885 " " " o 

Total 290,300 

This was the end of the northern herd. The remnant, 
numbering perhaps 200 or 300, was scattered in droves among 
the Badlands between the Missouri and the Yellowstone. 
One of these bands, numbering 40 or 50, took refuge in the 
rough country along the Big Porcupine River, where 28 of 
them were killed in 1886 by Dr. Hornaday, who collected and 
afterwards mounted them for the United States National 

The rest of these in the United States were soon picked off 
by cowboys and hunters. 

But a few small bands lingered on the Upper Saskatche- in 


wan tor several years. 

James M. Macoun tells me that in 1888 (early July) he saw 
the meat of 8 Buffalo bulls that were killed between Methy 
Portage and Lac la Biche. They were the last seen there. 

In 1 889, according to the Reverend J. A. McLaughlin, mis- 
sionary of Victoria north of the Saskatchewan, and W. Hine, 
a band of 1 1 was found in Hand Hills, 500 miles west of Mani- 
toba. Five were killed by Indian acquaintances of Mc- 
Laughlin. He saw part of the spoils, including a head, which 
sold at Winnipeg for $120. The other 6 were not accounted for. 

'^Ibid., p. 513. 

298 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The only wild Buffalo now left are those preserved in the 
Yellowstone Park, and the herd of Wood-buffalo that finds 
a refuge in the woods and on the Plains of Great Slave River. 

DOMESTi- So far as I can learn the earliest systematic effort to domes- 


ticate the Buffalo took place in Manitoba. In 1877 some 
Indians returning to Winnipeg from the west brought with 
them 5 Buffalo calves (i bull and 4 heifers). These became 
the property of James McKay, and were allowed to run about 
the outskirts of the town until 1882, when the herd, now num- 
bering 23, came into the possession of S. L. Bedson, by whose 
courtesy I was enabled to examine the herd at Stoney Moun- 
tain and gather full information. 

The account, which I partly reproduce, appeared in the 
May, 1886, edition of my ''Mammals of Manitoba." 

THE At the present time (January, 1885) the herd numbers 41 ; 

HERD of these, 9 are half-breeds with the common cattle; 6 are three- 
quarter bred; and the rest pure Buffalo. The object of 
domesticating these beasts is to provide an animal better 
suited to the requirements of the North-west than the common 
animal, which is, of course, unable to bear the winter without 
a certain amount of housing and feeding. 

These Buffalo receive no care beyond what is necessary 
to prevent them wandering away or being stolen. They live 
on the open prairie summer and winter, subsisting on the wild 
grass, even when they have to dig for it through one or more 
feet of snow. Nor is it a bare existence that they so maintain; 
for when I saw them late in January they were finding grass 
enough, not merely to feed, but to fatten them. When a 
blizzard comes on they lie down close together with their backs 
to the wind, and allow the snow to drift over them, so that under 
the combined protection of the snow and their own woolly 
coats they are perfectly comfortable. In January, 1884, one 
of the cows calved on the open prairie, and though at the time 
the thermometer registered 38 degrees below zero, neither 
cow nor calf appeared to suffer the slightest inconvenience. 

Buffalo 299 

In 1888 this herd had increased to 58, not counting 25 
half-breeds. In November of the same year they were bought 
by Colonel C. J. Jones (Buffalo Jones), of Kansas, and added 
to the 57 already in his possession. 

From these, at least in part, have been supplied most of 
the herds now in captivity. 

Colonel Jones has made many experiments and believes 
in a hybrid form between the Buffalo and common cattle. 
This **Cattalo," as he calls it, is especially suited as a range 
animal for the far north. It has the advantages of being 
exceedingly hardy, fearless of blizzards, able to paw and 
root through the snow for grass when ordinary cattle would 
starve, and, above all, produces a robe which, very superior 
even to that of a Buffalo, is worth as much as an entire 
ordinary steer. 

Alaska and Canada are the countries for which these 
experiments have an especial interest. 

The Canadian Government soon realized that a mistake the 
had been made in letting these Buffalo go, but an opportunity herd 
to retrieve has recently arisen. 

Charles Allard, a Montana ranchman, had secured a few 
Buffalo and kept them at the Flathead Reservation until 1888, 
when they numbered 35 head, and in 1907 their own increase 
and the added Pablo herd raised their numbers to 628. The 
whole herd was offered for sale and secured by the Canadian 
Government. A stroke of good business which pleased all 
good Canadians and did not entirely displease all good Amer- 
icans who wish well for the Buff^alo, because now it was realized 
that this remnant would be properly cared for and have a 
chance to increase. 

The Red River was the scene of another attempt to turn buffalo 
the Buffalo to commercial account. com- 

In 1822 there was founded at Fort Garry a joint stock ^'^^ 
company called the "Buffalo Wool Company."'" 

"See Ross, Red R. Settlement, 1856, W. 69-72. 

300 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The partners proposed to gather the Buffalo wool and use 
it as a substitute for that of the sheep. Undoubtedly the wool 
in question will make a good, servicable cloth, but the difficulty 
of getting the raw material in quantity and, above all, the mad 
mismanagement of the enterprise, ended all in a disastrous 

Ross informs us (p. 72) that a yard of the cloth fetching 
41 and dd [^1.08] in England cost £2 los [^12.00] to make on 
Red River. 

CENSUS How many Buffalo, both wild and domesticated, all told 

are now living ? This is a question put by all who are inter- 
ested in the subject. For a clear expression of their numbers, 
their decline, and the rescue of the survivors, I shall set the 
various figures in column: 

Estimate of the Buffalo in primitive days .... 60,000,000 

" " " 1800 40,000,000 

" " " 1850 20,000,000 

Dr. W. T. Hornaday's estimate 1870 5,500,000^" 

Miller Christy's census (of which 

200 were in captivity) . . . 1888 1,300®* 

Dr. W. T. Hornaday's census 

(wild 635; captive in America 

256; in Yellowstone Park 200) 1889 1,091*' 

About 1895 they probably reached a minimum of . . 800 

Mark Sullivan's census in . . . 1900 1,024 '^^ 

S. P. Langley's census Feb. 6, 1902 1,394*^ 

Dr. Frank Baker's census . . 1903 i5753^ 

1905 1,697*^ 

Dr. W. T. Hornaday's census . 1908 2,047" 

^ Ext. Am. Bison, p. 504. 

^' "The Last of the Buffaloes," London Field, November 10, 1888, p. 697. 
*^Ext. Am. Bison, 1889, p. 525. 

^ "The Buffalo Still Lives," Boston Evening Transcript, October 10, 1900. 
** Am. Bison in U. S. and Canada, U. S. Dept. Int., 57th Congress, ist Sess., Senate 
Doc. No. 445, pp. 38-39. 

*^ Stat. Am. Bison, 1905, Nat. Zool. Park, Smithsonian Institution. 
^ Stat. Am. Bison, 1906, Nat. Zool. Park, Smithsonian Institution. 
^' Rep. Am. Bison Soc, 1908, p. 74. 


Draw-n by Ernest Thompson Seton, 1892. 

Buffalo 301 

The apparent diminution in 1905 was due to the continued 
hunting of the wild ones in north-west Canada. 

In 1903 Dr. Baker estimated these latter at 600; in 1905 
at 400. My own estimate, after a month on their range in 
1907, is 300. They seem to be doomed, unless the Government 
takes vigorous steps to save them. But the captives in America 
and Europe have increased from the original stock of 200 in 
1888 to 1,722 in 1908, and there is every prospect that they 
will continue as they have begun. 

Many able pens have recorded the service that this im- the 
posing creature rendered man. It needs no telling here. He """^^^^"^ 
fed a quarter of a million and clothed twice as many human 
beings. But these services are ended. As a wild animal the 
Buffalo is gone! The great herds will never again be seen 
roaming the Plains. 

Who is there of the present generation that does not feel 
profound regret at this thought, and ask himself, "Oh, why 
was I born too late ? " What would I not give to have seen the 
Buffalo days and people in their romantic prime ? Much of 
the hungry regret that Sir Walter Scott felt over the departed 
glories of feudal life, is felt by every boy and young man of our 
country now, when he hears of the Buffalo days and the stirring 
times of the bygone wildest West. Why was this extermina- 
tion allowed .? Why did not the Government act ? This and 
a hundred other saddest ** might-have-beens" spring forth from 
hearts that truly feel they lost a wonderful something when 
butchers, drawn from the human dregs of border towns, were 
turned loose to wipe out the great herds that meant so much 
to all who love the wilds and the primitive in life. 

There is but one answer, It was absolutely inevitable. The 
Buffalo ranged the Plains that were needed by the outcrowded 
human swarms of Europe. Producing Buffalo was not the 
best use to which those Plains could be put. The Buffalo, 
possessed of vast size and strength, of an obstinate, impetuous 
disposition that would stampede in a given line and keep that 
Hne to the utter destruction of all obstacles or of himself, was 

302 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

incompatible with any degree of possession by white men and 
with the higher productivity of the soil. Therefore, he had to 
go. He may still exist in small herds in our parks and forest 
reserves. He may even achieve success as a domestic animal, 
filling the gaps where the old-time cattle fail. But the Buffalo 
of the wild Plains is gone forever; and we who see those times 
in the glamour of romance can only bow the head and sadly 
say, " It had to be. He served his time, but now his time is 

But he leaves behind him a lasting monument. Who that 
knows the West has not seen the game-trail grow into an 
Indian trail; the Indian trail into a pack-trail; the pack- 
trail into a white man's road, that in turn is the pilot of the iron 
horse ? The reason is simple — it is the easiest and shortest 
way through the hills that can be selected by long experience 
and thorough knowledge of the country. This idea, proclaimed 
by Hamlin Garland years ago, has been worked out for the 
Buffalo by A. B. Hulbert in his "Historic Highways of 
America."^* He points out that the Buffalo first planned the 
route through the Alleghanies by which the white man entered 
and possessed the Mississippi Valley. 

" It is very wonderful [he says] that the Buffalo's instinct 
should have found the very best courses across a continent upon 
whose thousand rivers such great black forests were thickly 
strung. Yet it did, and the tripod of the white man has proven 
it, and human intercourse will move constantly on paths first 
marked by the Buffalo. It is interesting that he found the 
strategic passageways through the mountains; it is also inter- 
esting that the Buffalo marked out the most practical paths 
between the heads of our rivers, paths that are closely followed 
to-day by the Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, Chesapeake 
and Ohio, Cleveland Terminal and Valley, Wabash, and other 
great railroads. 

"A rare instance of this: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 
between Grafton and Parkersburg (W. Va.) has followed the 

^ Prospectus to Hist. Highways Amer., Vol. I, Part II. Paths of the Gr Game 
Animals, 1902. 

Buffalo 303 

trail steadily throughout its course, and when it came to a more 
difficult point than usual, the railway was compelled to tunnel 
at the strategic point of least elevation, and in two instances 
the trail runs exactly over the tunnel! This same thing occurs 
now in the building of a new railway." 

But the white-man was not the first to follow the Buffalo's 
paths. Professor Mooney has proved to us that the Sioux 
Indians were a race of the Atlantic coast; that they migrated 
through the Alleghanies to the Mississippi Valley, and on— 
and yet farther on— they went. Doing what ? We know to-day 
from their traditions, from their life, and from their route, they 
were following the Buffalo. They followed them over the 
mountains, by the paths the Buffalos themselves had made. 
They have followed them long and far. Will they still keep on, 
and— as many of their bravest wished to do— seek the herds 
no more on the vast Missourian Plains, but over the borderland, 
in those perfect hunting-grounds where the mosquito, the small- 
pox, and the white man are unknown; and where alone the 
Buffalo bands will ever again be seen darkening the offing and 
** making the earth one robe .?" 

Fig. loy — A story of the plains. 


1 1 



<^, , 

, ^ 

VIII. ' 

The Common Red-squirrel, or Chickaree. 

Sciurus hudsonicus Erxleben. 

(L. Sciurus, a squirrel, from Greek skia, a shadow, and oura, tail, because jt sits in 
the shadow of its tail; hudsonicus, because it was first described from one fouod 
at Hudson's Straits.) 

Sciurus vulgaris hudsonicus Erxleben, 1777, Syst. reg. an. 

I, p. 416. 
Sciurus hudsonicus Allen, 1894, Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 

VI, p. 325- 

Type Locality. — Hudson's Straits. 

French Canadian, VEcureil rouge, ou de la Baie 

OjiB., Saut., Musk, and Cree, Ad-jee-dah-mo/ said 
by Animeekong to mean "head downwards," 
which is another way of saying ''tail in air." 

ChipeWYAN, Klee'-ay. 

Yankton Sioux, Kee-hah-chah. 

Ogallala Sioux, Zee-cha. 

The Family Sciuridce may be recognized among Canadian 
Mammals, as rodents with short ears, and bushy tails (usually 
long) : lower grinders, 4 on ea^h side. 

The genus Sciurus (Linnaeus, 1758) comprises small 
rodents of tree-climbing habits; they, have large and very 
bushy tails, moderatd^ears, no cheek-pouches, four fingers and 
a knob-like thumb on the fore-feet, and five nearly equal toes 
on the hind. The teeth are: 

T i~i 2-2 i-i . 3>-3, ■ 

inc. ; prem. or ; mol. =,20 or 2-2 

i-i i-i 1-.1 ^-^ \ 

In addition to these generic characters the Red-squirrel has: 
Length, about 12 inches (305 mm.); tail, 5 inches (127 size 
mm.); hind-foot, if inches (48 mm.). In ^^nitoba, Car- 
berry specimens are largest; Lake of the Woods, smallest. 


308 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

COLOUR In sum?ner the typical Red-squirrel is a sort- of olive 

pepper-and-salt above, becoming redder on the legs, feet, tail, 
and ears; and darker and more olive, on the head between the 
eyes; pure white on the hps, chin, throat, ring around eye, 
under parts of body and inner parts of limbs; with a black 
stripe extending along the side of the body between the dark 
upper colour and the white below. Near the end of the tail is 
a broad tapering band of black, and the tail is finished with a 
border of yellowish or grayish colour. 

In winter it loses the black stripe along each side, but adds 
a broad red band down the back and tail, and a speckling of 
dark gray over the white below. 

Sexes alike. 

In any part of its region, or in any of its coats, it is known 
at once as a red squirrel, with a white breast. 

Its nearest relatives are: 

The Douglas Squirrel(iS. douglasi Bachman) which is readily 
distinguished by its eartufts and by its orange or buff under parts. 

Fremont Squirrel {S. fremonti Aud. and Bach.) which is 
characterized by white-edged tail, a yellowish rufous backhand, 
gray upper parts, and white breast speckled with gray. 

The following races are recognized: 

hudsonicus Erxl., the typical form. 

gymnicus Bangs. Smallest of all the races, hind-foot 
small, colour dark, tail dark with red or orange 
fringe; breast, peppered gray in winter. 

loquax Bangs, a large form, very red above and al- 
ways pure white below. 

minnesota Allen, largest of all, hind-foot large and a 
pale form, most obviously differing from hudsoni- 
cus in having under side of tail all gray instead 
of rusty red. 

dakotensis Allen, a large and very pale form, quite 
the palest of all and white below. 

baileyi Allen, a very large, more olive and darker 
above than the type washed with fulvous below. 


This map is founded chiefly on Dr. T. A. Allen's Revision of the Chickarees {1898), with assistance from the records by O. Bangs, 
R. Macfarlane, E. W. Nelson, Audubon and Bachman, S. N. Rhoads, G. S. Miller, C. Hart Merriam, W. H. Osgood, E. A. Preble, 
E. T. Seton. ..... „ , 

It must be considered diaierrammatic and provisional. The facts are not yet available to make an absolute map of distnbution. tor the 
sake of clearness the ranKes are shown as though quite separate; they doubtless overlap. 

The three species are : Sciurus douglasi Bach., with 5 geographical races. 

Sciurus huJionicus Erxl., with 10 geographical races. Sciurus fremonli Aud. & Bach., with 4 geographical races. 


310 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ventorum Allen, a large form like the foregoing, but 
darker, more olive, and grayer below. 

richardsoni Bach, a large form still darker than ven- 
torum; with much black, especially on the tail, 
which is nearly all black above. 

streatori Allen, a large form much like richardsoni^ but 

is more olivaceous above in summer, and has a 

very short tail, of which only the last third is black. 

vancouverensis Allen, like streatori, but much small- 
er, and tinged brownish below. 

petulans Osgood, like vancouverensis, but paler. 

Specimens from Ingolf, Kenora, Norway House, and 
eastern and northern Manitoba are true hudsonicus. Those 
from Carberry and Winnipeg begin to show a gradation toward 
the larger pale form called minnesota. 

RANGE The Red-squirrel is found in Manitoba, from Lake of the 


ciEs Woods to Fort Ellice, and from Turtle Mountain to Berens River. 
Its range in America is set forth on page 309. 

ENVIRON- Its special environment is the coniferous woods. It is, 

MENT . . . . 

indeed, the only true Squirrel in Canada, east of the Plains, that 
is happy in the fir and pine forest region. 

It is also the only true Squirrel in Eastern Canada that 
makes and harbours in holes under ground. There is nothing 
so safe as Mother Earth, and it is doubtless due to this subter- 
ranean habit that the Red-squirrel survives and flourishes, while 
the Gray and Fox-squirrels vanish with the vanishing woods. 

iNDi- The home ranee of each individual is, I should say, less 


RANGE than ten acres. At Duff's Lake, near Carberry, is a grove of 
oaks that cannot cover much more than twenty acres, and it is 
yet range enough for a number of Red-squirrels to live in year 
after year. This grove is quite isolated; the Squirrels, to get 

Red-squirrel 311 

to it originally, may have had to cross half-a-mile of bare prairie. 
But the Red-squirrel knows so well how to use a hole in the 
ground that it can make these open journeys safely, when a 
more strictly arboreal animal would surely come to grief. 

In a grove of thirty or forty oak trees, east of Carberry, 
Willie Brodie and I, on November 26, 1882, ran down and capt- 
ured a Red-squirrel, that might easily have escaped to thicker 
woods farther away, but this small grove was evidently the 
home region that it knew, and here it would stay. In Ontario 
I have known one of the species to take up its abode in a 
barnyard, and never leave this all winter to go even fifty 
rods away. Many a one passes its whole life in an orchard 
of from four to five acres. A family of Red-squirrels that I 
watched for some months at Tappan, New York, never, so 
far as I could learn, went a quarter of a mile from the central 
home trees. In the woods about my Connecticut home is the 
Red-squirrel family elsewhere referred to as the "Singers." 
These I watch each summer, but I have never seen them one 
hundred yards from the home tree. If they ventured so far 
they would be trespassing on the occupant rights of the next 
Squirrel family, and be forced to fight or run away. I have, 
however, observed another family in northern New York that 
habitually travel along the fence between a corn-crib and a 
woods over a quarter of a mile ofT. 

At his country home (Woodstock, N. Y.) Paul Doherty 
has, he tells me, a pair of Red-squirrels which are very easy 
to observe, as both are albinos. Their nest for two or three 
years has been in a hollow apple tree. They are usually seen 
within fifty feet of this. Only once in four months did he see 
them farther away; they were then at the next house, eighty 
feet from their nesting tree. 

As sidelight I cite the case of a Fox-squirrel, a creature 
larger and more active than the Red-squirrel, therefore needing 
a larger stretch of woodland, and yet the evidence goes to 
show that the home range of the Fox-squirrel is small. Of 
half a dozen that I turned loose in Wyndygoul Park, in the 
spring of 1901, but one was seen as far off as a half mile from 

312 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the original spot, and two that died some weeks after, were 
found within fifty yards of the place where they got their liberty. 
The others disappeared. 

From these various facts I conclude that in a district 
of abundant food a Red-squirrel may pass its life on a few 
acres. In a region of scarcer food it must range farther, but if 
driven half a mile from home it may be an utter stranger to the 
locality. The cases noted in the chapter on swimming are 

HOW This species is never seen in vast numbers like the Gray- 

ABUN- . 1 r 1 T- 

DANT squirrel oi the hast. 

When the authorities of Bronx Park, N. Y., decided to thin 
out the Red-squirrels for the sake of the song birds and the 
Gray-squirrels, they killed 6o of them in the 200 acres of wood- 
land, leaving about a dozen. The woods had been well 
stocked with Red-squirrels, from which we may infer that a 
Squirrel to every three acres is abundance. 

I found it more numerous at Kenora than anywhere else 
in the country, and there I doubt if they would average one 
Squirrel to every three acres of pinewoods. In the western 
part of Manitoba it is much less abundant. Possibly a pair of 
Red-squirrels to every square mile of the country is the highest 
average we can allow. Where there are neither cone-bearers 
nor oaks there are no Squirrels. 

I see no difference in the number during recent times. It 
seems as numerous now as twenty years ago. 

sociA- Red-squirrels will play together, chasing each other among 

the trees, but I never saw two of them unite to defeat an enemy 
or to undertake some work too heavy for single effort. One 
may give the alarm call on finding a lurking foe, but it seems 
to utter it as a menace to the foe not as a warning to its friends. 
I have, I believe, seen both parents (near Toronto) gathering 
cedar bark for the nest; and, of course, the young are often 
seen in late summer following the mother, but these two cases, 
being family affairs, do not prove true sociability. 


Red-squirrel 313 

Sociable animals do things which are of no direct benefit 
to themselves, but helpful to others of their species, exclusive 
of their young and mates. In this highest sense according to 
present evidence the Red-squirrel, though slightly gregarious, 
is not sociable. 

In voice, the Red-squirrel of Manitoba does not differ from voice 
the common Red-squirrel of Ontario and Connecticut {var. 
loquax) so far as I can see. The prolonged chatter, the re- 
peated coughing and scolding, and the deep whining that pre- 
cedes the chatter, are common to both forms. 

In my woods is a Red-squirrel, apparently a female, that 
is a singer. She seems to amuse herself by uttering all the 
Squirrel notes in rapid succession, going over the list a number 
of times, and in various combinations, until her performance 
has lasted ten or fifteen minutes. This is doubtless an un- 
usual individual, but she illustrates the musical habit that we 
know now to be common to many, and may yet be found in 
all of the Mouse and Squirrel families. 

The mating of the Red-squirrel in Manitoba takes place matlxg 
late in March or early in April. About Toronto I found the 
male showing signs, internal and external, of sexual activity 
as early as February 6. 

I have no conclusive evidence to show whether the sexes pairing 
truly pair or simply consort for the time being. I have, how- 
ever, seen two adults at work building a nest, and this is strong 
evidence, since it is the rule for the male among polygamous 
animals to shirk all family responsibilities. 

The two albino Squirrels already noted at Woodstock, 
N. Y., were seen together all summer and autumn. 

William Brewster and several other naturalists are of the 
opinion that the Red-squirrel pairs, and the following evidence 
has bearing on the question: 

On the afternoon of July 19, 1905, at Cos Cob, Conn., I 
heard a continuous whining churr-churr from a Red-squirrel 
in the trees under the window, and I saw, about ten feet off, a 

314 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

small Red male with very red tail and black side stripes, trying 
by personal violence to possess a large dull-coloured female. 
She '' churred," struggled, and scrambled from bough to bough 
for several minutes, but he kept his hold. At length she uttered 
the loud call chatter. An answer came from a hemlock some 
fifty yards away; another large Squirrel rushed in and put the 
small villain to flight. 

I consider this incident important, as it showed first, sexual 
feeling outside the true breeding season; next that the third 
Squirrel (almost surely a male) still felt a band of attachment 
for this female; which argues in favour of permanent mating. 

I was further led to ask, Does not fear imply the posses- 
sion of imagination ? 

NEST- The home nest is usually in a hollow tree or stump. The 

majority of those I examined were in the abandoned holes of 
the flicker — a bird that provides more homes and safe retreats 
for animated nature than any other agency in our country. 
In the district around Kenora, that is, the pine forest, the Red- 
squirrels build many outside nests. These are a mass of bark 
strips and roots in the thick top of some bushy tree. One of 
these that I examined near Ingolf in September, 1904, was 
about nine feet from the ground in a small jack-pine that stood 
in a thicket. It was eighteen inches across, fourteen inches high, 
made on a solid platform of sticks, warmly built of frayed bark. 
Evidently the roof was watertight, as inside all was warm and 
dry in spite of recent heavy rains. The chamber was about six 
inches across and four inches high in the centre. It had but one 
door; this was on the south and so draped with fibrous material 
as to be virtually self-closing and quite concealed. W. R. Hine 
tells me he has once or twice found the litter in these "drays." 
About Carberry, where hollow oaks and flicker holes abound, 
these outside nests are rarely seen. 

On the other hand, in the far north, where the timber is 
small, many such are made, doubtless for permanent homes. 
W. H. Osgood, writing of the Red-squirrel on the Yukon, says:^ 

' N. A. Fauna, 1900, No. 19, p. 27. 

Red-squirrel 315 

*' Evidences of its activity are to be found all through the 
spruce forest. Its globular nests of grass, moss, bark and 
refuse are common and are usually situated near the trunk of 
some slender spruce, ten or twenty feet from the ground. Some- 
times several will be found in the same tree, and a half dozen 
or more are very often to be seen at the same time." 

Apparently the young are born about the first of May. A young 
home nest which I found at Carberry, June 24, 1882, was 
twenty feet up in an abandoned flicker's hole in a poplar stub. 

It contained 5 young. They were then blind, naked, and 
helpless and had no sign of aural orifice. They measured 
each about 4I inches long, including the tail, which was i^ 
inches. While I was up the stub the mother dashed up and 
down the far side, running over my hands and arms, in her 
great distress for their safety, quite reckless for herself. 

I put the young back, intending to come again and watch 
their development. But the mother had other plans for them. 
She removed them at once, and I did not discover their new 

I saw nothing of the male on this, or indeed on any other, 
family occasion, and so far as I know, he does not usually help 
in caring for the young. 

On the morning of May 4, 1906, at Cos Cob, I found 
an old female Red-squirrel in a rat-trap alive. She was evi- 
dently in milk. On letting her go she ran up a near tree, 
in the thick top of which I at once heard a great chattering and 
crooning as of two or more Squirrels. I suppose mother and 
family or possibly the mates were rejoicing over their reunion 
after the long separation of perhaps three or four hours. 

During boyhood days near Lindsay, Ontario, I once 
felled a dead hollow tree in which was a Red-squirrel's nest. 
The mother and one of the young were killed by the fall, but 
the remaining five little ones, still blind and furless, though 
now late in June, were taken to the old cat with the idea 
that she would give them a merciful end, and turn them to 
account. But the cat had very young kittens at the time, her 

316 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

heart was tender, and she received the orphans kindly. She 
suckled them with her own brood for some days. They died 
one by one, but it was not the fault of cat or kittens. So far as 
we could see her behaviour towards them throughout was 
of the gentlest and most motherly description. 

In a box which I set up in a thick hemlock near my house 
in Connecticut, the Squirrel elsewhere described as the " singer," 
rears her brood each year. In June I often see the little ones 
following the old one in a sort of procession through the trees. 
This is no doubt their training. The mother knows and teaches 
them all the leaps and bridges, as well as the harvest trees in 
their overhead world. 

On June i, 1905, in Wyndygoul Park, a Red-squirrel, 
apparently a young of this year, but already two-thirds grown, 
was climbing under the eaves of the house, and seemed to be 
catching and eating insects. It lost its hold several times on 
the smooth woodwork, and once it fell with a heavy flop to the 
brick terrace eight feet below. It seemed hurt and rubbed its 
head with both paws in a comical way for a few moments, then 
ran off to its proper home in the trees. 

It was interesting to note that it rubbed its head. Had the 
hurt been elsewhere it would have licked it. In either case the 
treatment must be considered an instinctive application of 
massage to the bruised place. 

My journal at Cos Cob, Conn., for June 11, 1905, has the 
following: Small Red-squirrels now running alone, they are 
very red and have very big tails. Again, on June 15, I find 
this: The young Red-squirrels of the Singer family are very 
red in colour and fearless in behaviour. They sometimes fol- 
low the old ones and sometimes run alone. 

I think they are not weaned till late in August; at least 
certain of them are not. The following notes show that some 
broods are very late. 

August 24, 1888, at Lome Park, near Toronto, Ontario, a 
family of half-grown Red-squirrels was found in a stub to-day; 
the mother carried them off one by one to a distant tree, where 
she hid them high up from view. 

Red-squirrel 317 

Camp, forty miles east from Kippewa, Quebec, on Septem- 
ber 10, 1905. To-day our guide, Fred Reeves, saw a Red- 
squirrel carrying a young one in her mouth. She held it by 
the belly, its legs and tail curled about her neck. It was about 
one-third grown. 

By October the family seems to have broken up spon- 
taneously. I believe that one brood each year is all the Red- 
squirrel produces. 

The true Squirrels are supposed to be strictly diurnal, noc- 
I never heard of a Red-squirrel bestirring itself by night, and 
I am much puzzled by this note in my journal: 

Caughnawanna, forty miles east of Kippewa, Quebec, Sep- 
tember 28, 1905. After dusk, I heard in a fir tree the unmis- 
takable ''snick, snick, snick'' with occasional "snicker" of a 
Red-squirrel. This was repeated at intervals all night until 
10.30 p. M., when I went to sleep. At 4.30 when I arose it was 
still to be heard. It certainly was not the voice of any bird or 
of any other quadruped that I know. Is the Red-squirrel 
nocturnal or desirous of posing as a nightingale ? or was it 
some note of the Flying-squirrel ? 

Like all the tribe this species has a very tender tail. t.\il 
If suddenly lifted by the tail when alive, the skin is likely to 
strip off, leaving the raw, bony structure. This is a serious 
handicap, as is proved by the fact that a tailless Squirrel rarely 
survives. The loss seems to limit its jumping power, and when 
it falls it suffers a heavy jar, from which the tail would have 
saved it. 

Yet it is a remarkable fact that half of the Squirrels I col- 
lected about Kenora in 1886 had some injury in the tail — 
either it was lacking a few joints, or it had an abnormal bump 
on the end. I do not know whether these were caused by 
battle, disease, or climate. 

At St. Johnsbury, Vt., a friend of mine (Charles H. Hor- 
ton) had two or three large trout in a fountain basin on the 
lawn. A Red-squirrel that lived in the adjoining grove came 

318 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

at times to drink here. One day, having satisfied his thirst, 
he faced about. A distant cat aroused his ire. He scolded 
as he sat on the edge of the basin and lashed his long brush 
over it in true Red-squirrel style, till one of the trout leaped 
from the water and seized the tail. Of course it stripped off, 
leaving the raw bone. The wrathy Squirrel, rushing up the 
nearest tree, had the unique experience of seeing the trout 
play games with his tail in the water below. He chattered and 
scolded furiously for about five minutes, then went off. The 
injury seemed slight; the naked part dried up and dropped off. 
The animal was not obviously crippled, and yet, as usual, the 
tailless one disappeared. Robbed of his rudder for the long 
flying leap, and of the parachute to break his fall, he was 
crippled in the struggle for life and could not long survive. 

Francis Dickie, of Carberry, Man., writes me that on 
March 20, 1905, he found a Red-squirrel dead under a tree. 
"The tail was gone, except half an inch of stub, which looked 
as if chewed off, and not cut with a knife." 

POWERS How far can the Red-squirrel leap on the level ? Not more 

than five feet, I should say, after measuring many bounds re- 
corded in the snow, where they were running to escape from 
dogs and hunters. The wonderful leaps of fifteen or twenty 
feet from tree to tree that one hears of, are made on a descend- 
ing leap, in which they are greatly aided by the kiting action 
of the flat spread body and tail. 

SWIM- The Red-squirrel of New England is known to be a strong 

and fearless swimmer. It does not hesitate to make for land a 
mile away across the water. Dr. Merriam has some interest- 
ing notes on the swimming of this species as observed in the 

"The Red-squirrel [he says^] is a good swimmer, swim- 
ming rapidly and with much of the head, back, and tail out of 
the water. On August 18, 1874, I was paddling silently down 
a sluggish stream in the heart of the Adirondacks, when a slight 

• Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 216-7. 

Fig. io8 — Right hind-paw. 

(Natural size.) 

Fig. 109 — Right fore-paw. 
(Twice natural size.) 


Fig. no — Track of left hind-paw. 
(Natural size.) 

Fig. II.— Showing the four nerve bristles on under side, with tufts of same on fore-legs, cheeks. 






Fig. 112 — Tracks ir 

Details of Red-squirrel. 


320 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

noise on the shore arrested my attention. A Squirrel soon 
appeared at the water's edge, but turned back upon perceiving 
the boat. The stream, which was about twenty feet (approxi- 
mately six metres) in width, here flowed through an extensive 
marsh, the nearest tree being more than loo yards (nearly loo 
metres) away. Surprised at seeing a Squirrel in such a place, 
I stopped the boat, holding fast to a few bushes on the opposite 
bank, and after remaining motionless a few moments had the 
satisfaction of seeing him return, climb out on a little bush, and 
swim across. Again, June 28, 1878, while rowing on Branting- 
ham Lake, in Lewis County, I saw a Red-squirrel swimming 
about midway between *the point' and the main shore 
opposite [one mile]. He was moving toward the point, and, as 
I reached him, climbed up on the oar, ran over my back and 
legs, then along the gunwale, jumping ahead from the bow in 
the direction toward which he was swimming when first seen. 
On overtaking him he again came aboard and jumped ahead 
as before. This was done a number of times, the Squirrel 
gained each time two or three boat's length, till he finally suc- 
ceeded in reaching the shore. I have repeatedly been told by 
hunters and guides that they occasionally meet these Squirrels 
swimming various lakes and rivers in the Wilderness, and 
James Higby tells that in June, 1877, he saw as many as 50 
crossing Big Moose Lake (one and a half miles), and that 
they were all headed the same way — to the north. 

** I am informed by A. K. Fisher that at the southern end 
at Lake George, in early autumn, it is sometimes an everyday 
occurrence to see Red-squirrels swimming across the lake, 
from west to east [about two miles] — never in the opposite direc- 
tion. The chestnut grows abundantly on the eastern side of 
the lake, but it is comparatively scarce on the western, and 
these extensive migrations always take place in years when the 
yield of chestnuts is large. 

"A few Squirrels are occasionally seen crossing the lake 
when the nut-crop is only moderate.' In September Mrs. 
Fisher was angling between Diamond Island and the west 
shore when a Red-squirrel swam to the boat and was lifted in 

Red-squirrel 321 

by the tail. After resting a few minutes it ran out on an oar, 
jumped into the water and swam to the island (which is half a 
mile from the west shore), and thence, doubtless, to the chest- 
nut groves on the eastern side of the lake." 

** Mr. Winslow C. Watson, in his History of Essex County, 
says: *The autumn of 1851 afforded one of these periodical 
invasions of Essex County. It is well-authenticated that the 
Red-squirrel was constantly seen in the widest parts [about 7 
miles] of the lake (Lake Champlain), far out from land, 
swimming towards the shore, as if familiar with the service; 
their heads above the water, and their bushy tails erect and 
expanded, and apparently spread to the breeze. Reaching 
land, they stopped for a moment, and relieving their active and 
vigorous little bodies from the water by an energetic shake or 
two, they bounded into the woods, as light and free as if they 
had made no extraordinary effort.'" 

These observations bring up the question of migration, migra 
I have little faith in the migration of Squirrels. In autumn the 
young are full grown; all the Squirrel population is bustling 
about preparing for the winter. They seem so much more 
numerous than in summer that one often hears the remark 
that "the Squirrels have come" — but among Red-squirrels, at 
least, it is not in any sense due to a regular migration. 

The evidence of the above paragraph from Dr. Merriam's 
book is so strong, however, that we must admit for the Red- 
squirrel of the Adirondack at least, and doubtless some other 
peculiar localities, a certain amount of migration when driven 
by scarcity of food. I have seen nothing of the kind in Mani- 
toba, Ontario, or Connecticut. 

In the summer the Red-squirrel feeds on almost any kind food 
of nuts and seeds. Berries also are added, but not at all to the 
extent that the Black and Gray-squirrels use them. The Red 
is a little unaccountable in some of its tastes. I have known 
one tear open vast quantities of apples to get at the seeds with- 
out eating any of the pulp, though it does sometimes eat the 


322 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

latter. On June 23, 1906, a Red-squirrel stole an apple from 
our porch breakfast table and carried it up a tree. Later it fell 
from the crotch where he had lodged it. He had eaten over 
one-fifth of it; the remainder weighed four and a half ounces. 
He had not reached the seeds. Several apples had been stolen 
cARNiv- Most of the Rodentia will eat flesh, some are largely 

carnivorous; probably all are meat-eaters at times, but the 
Red-squirrel enjoys the Ill-repute of being the most carnivorous 
of its genus. 

Its attacks on fledgling birds and birds' eggs are notorious. 
About noon on June 26, 1905, at Cos Cob, I heard the shrill 
squealing of a young flicker and the angry churr churro^ an old 
one varied by a loud clape. On going to the place I found a 
Red-squirrel on the ground with a fledgling flicker. He was 
deliberately eating the flesh off its shoulders in spite of its 
squeals and the very poor defense of the mother. When he 
saw me he ran up a tree and scolded from a safe place. The 
little reprobate was soaked and red with blood to the very eyes. 

In June of 1906 at least three robins' nests in my garden 
were rifled of their new-hatched young by Red-squirrels, and 
in one or two cases the eggs were taken. Nevertheless, there 
is remarkable individuality shown among the Squirrels in this 
particular. A family of five lived in a grove of six or seven small 
trees near my house. In this grove a yellow-throated vireo 
reared her young under the Squirrels' very noses. They must 
have seen the birds, yet did them no harm. 

William Brewster has described to me a similar case in 
which he saw the Squirrels leap daily over a robin's nest, but 
offer no harm to the eggs or callow young. These, however, 
must, I fear, be called the exceptions. The normal Red- 
squirrel of New England and Ontario is a little cut-throat 
ruffian — a terror to small birds, especially to the robin. 

Its brother in Manitoba has a similar reputation, though I 
never saw one actually robbing a nest. 

In the Selkirk Mountains, August 17, 1899, I watched the 
Squirrels of the region eating eagerly the worms that infested 

Red-squirrel 323 

a sort of gall that formed on the spruce trees (P. alba). Cross- 
bills also were eating them at that time. 

In the autumn the showering abundance of nuts and seeds 
gives the Red-squirrel a chance to feast, to fatten, and also to 
lay up store for times of famine ahead; all of which it attends 
to with admirable assiduity. In the country about Kenora, 
the principal autumn (and therefore winter and spring) 
food of the Squirrel is seeds of the jack-pine. But about 
Carberry the spruce and oaks supply its staples of support. 

The Red-squirrel has three principal sources of winter in the 
food supply in Manitoba. 

I St. Stores of food and nuts that it has laid up in hollow 
trees or in underground vaults during the previous season, and 
over which it exercises the surveillance of a jealous ownership. 

So far as I have been able to observe, the Red-squirrel 
never buries separate nuts here and there in the ground, after 
the manner of the Fox-squirrel, nor does it store up any useless 
husks, but first prepares the food carefully, and stores it in one 
or two places, usually a hollow log or tree. About Winnipeg, 
where hollow trees are scarce, I found evidence of its storing 
this food underground, and farther north, according to Sabine 
and Richardson:^ 

"These animals * * * are found wherever the white 
spruce fir grows, living upon its seeds, and passing the winter 
in holes at the roots of trees, coming out occasionally for food, 
and to sport in fine weather among the branches.'* 

Osgood says^ that on the Yukon '' little excavations in the 
moss show where the Chickarees have been digging for roots; 
and spruce cones tucked away in these and other out-of-the-way 
places are further evidence of their sagacity. The ground is 
often strewn for some distance with the scales of spruce cones 
which they have stripped. Near Lake Marsh I found one 
such place twenty feet square which was covered six inches deep 
with scales." 

' Franklin's Land Journey, 1823, p. 663. 
* N. A. Fauna, No. 19, p. 27, 1900. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 


Before the crop is quite ripe the Red-squirrel may be seen 
industriously cutting off pine-cones, fir-cones, etc., till the tree 
is despoiled and the ground below littered over with the crop. 
There they lie until the harvester finds time to open each, and 
carry the valuable part to one of its storehouses. And here it 

may be remarked 
that the Red-squir- 
rel knows the best 
way of getting at 
each kind of food. 
It never opens an 
acorn as it would 
a hickory nut, or 
a pine-cone as a 
chestnut burr. It 
never strikes a but- 
ternut on the thick 
end, or makes the 
mistake of chissel- 
ing into a nut that 
does not repay the 
trouble. Sound- 
Zoo^/ n^ nuts picked 
up at a Squirrel's 
laboratory are in- 
variably found to 
be empty. 

The work- 
shop where the Squirrel thus prepares its food is much marked 
by heaps of the hulls, rubbish and rejected nuts, but these are 
never left near the actual store. 

The habit of cutting off the chestnuts before they are ripe 
is very marked among the Connecticut Squirrels, and is at times 
somewhat puzzling. The nuts would be much better if left a 
fortnight longer, and by throwing them to the ground all are 
brought within reach of many rivals. The explanation lies in 
the fact that the Red-squirrel has been evolved to prey on the 

Fig. ii3^Red-squinels in life. 

Red-squirrel S25 

seeds of conifers. If these are left to ripen fully they take unto 
themselves wings and fly away, whereas by cutting the cone 
just before it opens the Squirrel makes sure of the prize. 

In contrast with the storage habits of the Red-squirrel I 
quote my notes on the Fox-squirrel: "On the first of August, 
1903, I watched for an hour the Fox-squirrels in City Park, 
Madison, Wis. A large male that seemed master of those near 
came forward as I offered him some peanuts. The first three 
he ate, the rest he buried. His procedure was the same each 
time: seizing the nut in his teeth, then in his paws, he turned it 
two or three times in his mouth and appeared to be licking it — 
why ? I could not guess unless it was to mark it with the smell 
of his ownership. This trick is also practised by the Eskimo* 
of Davis Strait, as well as by sailors and small boys of our 
own race. 

Then the Squirrel ran along the ground in a jerky, erratic 
way, selecting a place to bury his treasure. Having decided 
on the spot, always in the open, away from any landmark, he 
scratched a hole about three inches deep, thrust the nut into 
the bottom of it and replaced the earth, packing it down with 
his front paws, until it was levelled. If approached by 
another Squirrel during the operation, he drove him away. If 
another Squirrel approached the place two or three minutes 
afterward, the owner of the treasure still showed fight, but in 
five or ten minutes he seemed to lose the sense of ownership, 
and other Squirrels might run over the place without provoking 
hostilities. This Squirrel made ten holes during the hour I 
watched. After that he seemed to be weary. The question 
arises. How does the Squirrel profit by these " hides " .? It seems 
to me incredible that he should remember each separate place. 
Rather, I should say, he has a general guidance from memory 
of locality and a particular guidance from smell. 

* "The fortunate person licked each article with his tongue, on receiving it, as a finish 
to the bargain, and an act of appropriation. They in no instance omitted this strange 
practice, however small the article." Franklin's First Journey, 1823, p. 17. It is well 
known that once a cow, sheep, or dog has licked its own little foundling, the feeling of 
kinship and possession is established. Maybe human kissing had a cognate origin. — 
E. T. S. 

326 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

I never saw a Squirrel dig without finding the buried 
treasure, though I have often seen him smell without digging. 

This is the habit of the Fox-squirrel and its cousin, the Gray, 
but not apparently of the Red-squirrel or any of its near kindred. 

In the region of the two former it is probable that 9 nut 
trees out of 10 owe their planting to some Squirrel. 

At Wyndygoul Park a number of Red and Gray-squirrels 
have learned to eat from a tray of stuff put out daily in cold 
weather. The Grays sit down and eat their food where they 
find it. The Reds carry it away to eat. The Grays lose 
interest when their bellies are full. The Reds carry away every- 
thing, storing what they cannot eat. 

The second food supply in winter is mushrooms, chiefly of 
the genus Russula. If these were to be stored in the same way 
as the other provisions they would doubtless rot long before 
they could be of service. The Squirrel stores them in the only 
available way, that is, in the forked branches of the trees. 
Here they are safe from the snow that would bury them, from 
the Deer and Field-mouse that would steal them, and instead 
of rotting, they dry up and remain in good order until needed. 

I have seen Red-squirrels storing up these mushrooms in 
the Sandhills south of Chaska Lake, Manitoba, in the Selkirk 
Mountains, on the Ottawa, and on the upper Yellow- 
stone River. The Squirrel's sense of private ownership in a 
mushroom-stored tree is not so clear as its feeling regarding a 
hoard of nuts it has gathered. 

During early winter in Manitoba I have once or twice seen 
a Red-squirrel dig down through the snow to some mushroom, 
still standing where it grew, and there make a meal of it. 

While camped at Caughnawanna, on September 14, 1905, 
I was witness of a comic display of frugality and temper on the 
part of a Red-squirrel. A heavy footfall on the leaves had 
held me still to listen. Then appeared a Chickaree labouring 
hard to drag an enormous mushroom. Presently it caught in a 
branch, and the savage jerk he gave to free it resulted in the 
"handle" coming off. The Squirrel chattered and scolded, 
then seized the disc, but again had the misfortune to break 



it, and now exploded in wrathful sputterings. Eventually, 
however, he went off with the largest piece and came back for 
the fragments one by one. 

FrG. 114— Mushroom eaten by Red-squirrel, Bitter-root Mts., Idaho, September 6, iyo2 

(Natural size) 

The scene was an exact reproduction of one described by 
Dr. Merriam in 1884.*' 

The third principal food supply is the thinnest greenish 
outer bark of the Quaking Aspen or Poplar. This it does 
not store up, but gathers as it is needed in time of famine, just 
as do the other herbivorous animals. 

^ Mam. Ad., 1884, p. 214. 

328 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

FOOD IN The Red-squirrel's chief food in sprine is presumably the 

SPRING . . , ■ ^ r i 

same as m wmter, namely, stores carried over irom the year 
before, eked out with poplar bark. As a matter of fact these 
stores are laid up for spring as much as for winter. Many 
times during the spring time I have seen Red-squirrels licking 
eagerly the twigs of a sweet birch (B. lent a) opposite my 
window. I could not see that they got anything; they certainly 
were not removing the bark. It has, however, a new variation 
of diet at this season, for now the sapsucker comes from the 
south and taps numerous trees, maple, aspen, etc., to feed on 
the coagula.ted syrup, and on the insects caught therein. The 
Red-squirrel makes the most of the chance, and following the 
sapsucker, steals the product of its labour; sap and insects 
both are acceptable. Thus the Squirrel becomes for a season 
a sort of parasite on the hard-working woodpecker. 

A most interesting case of odd companionship has been 

put on record' by T. A. Gentry. It may be of the same class 

as this. 

ODD " In the hollow of an oak-tree, not far from Germantown 

PANioN- [says he], lives an individual of the common Chickaree Squirrel 

^^^^ (Sciurus hudsonicus) with a specimen of this little owl [saw-whet 

or Acadian] as his sole company. They occupy the same hole 

together in perfect harmony and mutual good-will. It is not 

an accidental temporary association, for the bird and the 

Squirrel have repeatedly been observed to enter the same hole 

together, as if they had always shared the apartment. But 

what benefit can either derive from the other.?" 

The only explanation that I can suggest is that the 
Squirrel went there to feed on the Mice and small birds that 
the owl often stores in one corner of its house. I expect the 
owl was not benefited at all. Similar cases are mentioned in 
the Fox and Badger chapters. 

HABITS This species does not hibernate, so far as my observation 

WINTER goes. I have seen them abroad during very cold weather, 

even 20 degrees and 30 degrees below zero; and throughout the 

^ Coues's Birds of the Northwest, 1874, p. 317. 



winter about Carberry. I recollect especially one day in 
December, 1884, seeing the Squirrels chasing each other about 
in a grove of oaks and having the merriest game of tag, though 
the thermometer registered that day 35 degrees below zero. 

I think it possible that farther north, where the winter is 
severe, this vigorous little creature may consent to sleep during 

Fig. IIS — The Red-squirrel's playgn'ound, in a snowdrift. 

the worst of the storms, for the habit is deeply rooted in the 
family. But this must be only for a short time, and it is ever 
ready to resume active life on the slightest encouragement from 
the weather. 

E. W. Nelson says® that in Alaska "the most intense cold 
of the northern winter does not keep them in their nests more 
than a day or two at a time." 

During the winter in northern New York State I found a 
trail along a fence showing in the snow where some Squirrels 
had a regular road from a barn full of corn to a little woods a 

»Nat. Hist. Alaska, 1887, p. 281. 

330 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

quarter of a mile away. This woods turned out to be first, a 
cemetery, second, the happy home of a family of Red-squirrels. 
Besides a number of holes in trees and in the earth, I 
found these Squirrels had a snow-drift playground. They had 
made a perfect labyrinth of galleries in a drift that was twenty 
feet long and six feet wide. This had ten entrances leading to 
chambers and passages innumerable, and in very cold days 
they evidently played tag here instead of in the tree tops. 
Around the entrances I found the remains of nuts and pine- 
cones, so maybe somewhere in the snow-drift was a feasting 
j_ place — their winter palace was banquet hall 

as well as gymnasium; but I could not ex- 
amine it fully without destroying it, so left 
it alone (Fig. 115). 

This carousal of the Squirrels lay be- 
tween the graves of a family that had died of 
small-pox and of some soldiers killed in the 
Civil War, but doubtless the Squirrels found 
it the merriest place on earth. 

Every winter at Cos Cob I find dozens 
Fig. ii6-opemngofaRed- of tuuncls drivcu uudcr the snow as close as 

squirrel's snow-tunnel. *! i i i T"! C 

possible to the ground. Ihese are 01 two or 
three inch caUbre and at the bottom show plainly the foot- 
marks of some animal of Squirrel size, labouring hard to force 
the passage. Though I never caught the miner in the act, I 
have at length traced them to the Red-squirrel. The remains 
of cones, etc., in and around showed what it sought with so 
much labour. 

ENEMIES The principal enemy of this animal in primitive regions is 

the Pine Marten; indeed, we may consider that next to the 
Mice the Red-squirrel is the Marten's principal food. Quick 
though the Squirrel may be, the Marten can follow just as 
fast. Up the tree and down and from branch to branch, pur- 
suing to the topmost twigs, turning when it turns, climbing 
where it climbs, leaping where it leaps, the Marten surely runs 
it down, and revels in its blood. The Squirrel has but two 

Red-squirrel 331 

ways of escaping; the first is by getting into a hole that is a snug 
fit for itself and therefore impossible for the foe — not by any 
means a safe resource, as the Marten may tear the entrance 
a trifle wider, and then take the prey at leisure. The other is 
the flying leap from the branches of one tree to another. The 
Marten can leap quite as far as the Red-squirrel — that is, four or 
five feet on the level — but its greater weight forces it to leap from 
a point farther back, where the boughs are thicker, and this 
difference is often the salvation of the hunted one. A Squirrel 
knows all the far leaps that are found in its home woods. 
If it sticks to them it may escape. But one that loses its 
head and allows itself to be driven into strange territory, is 
certainly lost. 

It has another foe to contend with, probably the worst 
of all — that is the paralysis of fear. The very sight of the re- 
lentless, blood-thirsty Marten on its trail will sometimes rob it 
of all power, and render it an easy prey. 

The Weasels also are among the foes of the Squirrel. 
They have not the activity of the Marten, but they can follow 
the Squirrel into any hole, and their pertinacity makes up for 
their inferior agility in the trees. 

We must also reckon among its enemies most of the 
large hawks and owls. According to Fisher's Report,^ the 
marsh hawk, Cooper's goshawk, redtail, redshoulder, broad- 
wing and barred owl have been taken with parts of Red- 
squirrel in their stomachs. To these we may safely add the 
great horned owl, for it is known to kill Fox-squirrels; doubt- 
less, therefore, the Red-squirrel also is on the list. 

Strange to say, we must include the sparrow-hawk, as the 
following record will show: 

Portage la Prairie, April i6, 1886. — A male sparrow-hawk 
was brought to me. In its stomach was a young Red-squirrel 
and a song-sparrow, an extraordinary meal for so small a bird. 
Possibly the sparrow-hawk was seeking for a home when it 
discovered the Squirrel's nest with the young one, and yielded 
to temptation. 

" Fisher's Hawks and Owls of U. S., 1893. 


332 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

COM- The Common Deermouse of Manitoba is found in the 

sALisM same region and has the same foods as the Red-squirrel, so I 
suspect it will be found tapping the Red-squirrel's hoards, just 
as the Field-mouse often quarters itself on the storehouse of 
the Yellow Gopher. 

The cuterehra, which is fully described on page 410, is 
known to attack most small rodents. I never saw a case 
among Red-squirrels, but W. R. Hine tells me that he has seen 
several about London, Ontario, and one or two among speci- 
mens taken near Winnipeg. In these cases the larva of the bot 
was found in the scrotum of the Squirrel. 

In the fall of 1888, near Toronto, I saw a Red-squirrel 
rubbing his anus very hard on a tree as he chattered at me. 
On collecting him, I found the anal glands and the surrounding 
region much swollen. Whether this was some disease or a 
sexual condition or the result of an attack of cuterebra, I could 
not make out. I have seen it several times since and always 
in late summer or early fall. Two well-marked cases were 
September 11, 1905, at a place forty miles east of Kippewa, 
Quebec, and September 22, 1902, Bitterroot Mountains, 

Wyndygoul, August 13, 1905. — To-day I watched a large 
female Red-squirrel (evidently in milk) energetically scratching 
her head with both paws. Sometimes she scratched and nib- 
bled at her body and tail, but the head seemed the chief seat of 
the irritation. Occasionally I saw her mandibles moving as 
though eating the victim of the hunt. At times she stopped to 
seize and devour a hemlock cone, and several times she rubbed 
her face and neck vigorously on the hemlock limbs, 

A curious sort of parasitism is found among animals which 
build an elaborate nest, and I have several observations to 
show that the Red-squirrel is no exception. 

I found an abandoned nest of the species late in September 
and sent the whole thing to Professor E. B. Southwick, who thus 
reported: "After a careful examination of the Squirrel's nest 
I find among the lining: 

" (a) The leg of a thorax and larva-skin of beetle, I think, 

Red-squirrel 333 

those of the 'meal worm,' no doubt attracted there by the bits 
of grain, on which it feeds in the larval state. 

*' (b) The pupa case of fly. As there was a lot of Squirrel 
excrement in the nest it is possible that the fly larva fed upon it, 
as I could see no signs of any other animal matter that it could 
develop on. 

*' (c) The pupa case of wasp. This came from the small 
nest which you say hung a foot above the bed and was not in- 
cluded in the Squirrel's boarders." 

This is a study in *'commensalism" — as the Squirrel had 
at least two tenants to share his bed and board and a "squat- 
ter" in the shape of a wasp whose sovereignty was not to be 
disputed — in fact, commensalism with "squatter sovereignty" 
hanging over it — not so unlike some other local habitats or 
homes we have seen. 

On July 9, 1906, I found that the nest already men- 
tioned as that of the Singer, was deserted. I sent it com- 
plete for analysis to Professor Southwick. I believed that 
the increase of the parasites had forced the Squirrel to leave 
it, but this idea was not sustained by the report, which is as 
follows : 

"The nest was composed of leaves of Quercus rubra, alba 
and castanea {Castanea resea var. Americana^. 

" Leave and fibre of Tilia americana [the nearest tree was 
200 yards away]. 

"Leaves of Juglans cinerea [the nearest was 100 yards 

"Fibre of Vitis labruska and probably of Asclepius 
(species .?) [the nearest was 300 yards away]. 

"The lower part of the nest was composed of a mass of 
decaying leaf mould and vegetable matter, excrement, etc., and 
in this I found the following remnants: 

"The pupa case of two species of Diptera; the imago 
developing in the excrement; a very minute fly {Diptera) of 
an unknown species, bred in the fermenting mass and common 
to such places; the remnants of wing-cases of two species of 
Coleoptera, probably of the wood-boring kind. 

334 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"Two larvae of some wood-boring Coleoptera which will 
have to be developed so as to determine the variety; parts 
of wing-case of cockroach, common in woods in moist places. 

*' I could not find any parasitic animals that would cause 
the Squirrels to forsake their nest, and if such is the case they 
migrate with them or leave the nest when the host has disap- 

In the spring of 1908 I noticed that there were no Squirrels 
about this nesting box. On May 13 I climbed up and found 
the reason; it was crammed to the roof with dung pellets, a 
disgusting mass, which left no room for a nest. 

sANiTA- The pollution of the nest with excrement is a black mark 

against the Red-squirrel, and shows that it has not yet attained 
the rudiments of sanitation. In this department the lowest 
animals are those that void their dung wherever they happen 
to be, even in their nests. But the sanctity of the home is 
essential to uplift, and the next step is seen in those that leave 
the nest, but void the waste anywhere near. Flying-squirrels 
and Ground-squirrels illustrate this. A new advance is 
marked by those which have special places for the product. 
Of this class are the Field-mice with their open midden-heaps. 
The highest types are represented by the cats, which bury 
their dung with scrupulous care each time, and the Pocket- 
gophers, which construct underground cesspools, on the earth- 
closet principle. The Deer, having no home place or nest, 
need no sanitation, and have not developed at all in this 
direction. But the Red-squirrel is inexcusable. It has a 
home and does not trouble to keep it clean. 

GOVERN- Though unacquainted with the first principle of sanitation, 

the species has developed some of the fundamentals of govern- 
ment. It will fight bravely for its food tree, for its territory, for 
its nest and, as we have seen, for its mate. Caught trespassing, 
however, on the domain of the neighbour, it will act in a cow- 
ardly manner that contrasts sharply with the behaviour when 
defending its own. 


Red-squirrel 335 

This may mean that when at home it can count on support, 
and abroad it fears an increase of foes, not that it is a conscience- 
made coward. 

Applying the rule, that the age of an animal is about what 
four times the period of growth, the Squirrel should be old iHE?"" 
at six years. In captivity, when guarded from all dangers, attain? 
it might last eight or ten years. I have no direct evidence! 
However, I knew a Gray-squirrel that lived captive for eight 
years and was fully grown when first caught. 

The Red-squirrel is a veritable Puck of the Pines— an men- 
embodiment of merriment, birdlike activity and saucy roguery. 
One may live for years near a wood that is the home of Weasel, 
Skunk, and Hare without ever suspecting their presence, for 
these sly creatures are silent and nocturnal. But the merry 
Chickaree is a being of the sunlight, and as boisterous as it is 
vigorous in work and play. 

It is well-known to all the world that shares its range, and 
the map (p. 309) shows how very wide a range it is. In 
various forms it covers North America, broadly speaking, 
wherever the pine trees grow. 

V_ The rodents are very low in the scale of intelligence, but 
the Red-squirrel ranks high in its class. It is gifted with a 
burning curiosity, which, tempered by prudence and aided by 
agility, is an excellent start on the road to knowledge. It 
is an inveterate scold, and will follow a foe for the fun of 
abusing him at a safe distance. When cornered in a hole it 
fights desperately till the last, and will drive its powerful 
''buck teeth" right through the incautious hand that grasps 
it, as I have several times discovered to my cost. It con- 
siders itself very superior to its larger cousin, the Gray- 
squirrel, and I take the Red-squirrel's view of the case. 
Whenever their interests clash it is the Red-squirrel that 
wins — in the end, not, I suspect, by any actual battle, but by 
Its vigour, pluck, and pertinacious aggressiveness, which 
enable it to wear out and drive the other away; although I 

336 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

need hardly say that the story of its emasculating its rival is 
an ancient, picturesque, and sanguinary myth. 

There is evidence, however, that the contest is no foregone 

On the 2d of January, 1905, I climbed up to the box 
mentioned in the chapter on young. I expected to find the 
owner at home, as the Red-squirrels were daily to be seen. 
The box was crammed with leaves and bark strips. A bunch 
in the centre seemed to move. A finger thrust proved that a 
warm, furry creature was within, another poke, and out leaped, 
not the prima donna, but a fat Gray-squirrel, the sole occupant 
of the nest. If the two kinds are at war, and the Red is the 
stronger, why was the Gray-squirrel there ? 

VALUE Should we preserve the Red-squirrels in view of the fact 

that they destroy a certain amount of grain, fruit, and song- 
birds every year ? These are serious charges, and I cannot 
refute them in detail; but I know that my grounds abound 
now, as they have for years, with grain, fruit, song-birds, and 
Red-squirrels, showing that these are not incompatible. They 
are near some sort of balance. It may prove a wise thing to 
keep the Chickaree numbers down since their natural foe, the 
Marten, is gone from New England, but I am far from joining 
with those who would welcome its extinction. Indeed, I 
should wofully miss the noisy little rascals if I did not see them 
at their daily play, and I hope that the Red-squirrels will fre- 
quent my grounds at least as long as I do. 


Common Chipmunk, Big or Eastern Chipmunk, Chip- 
ping Squirrel, Striped Ground-squirrel or Hackee. 

Tamias striatus griseus Mearns. 

(Gr. Tamias, a steward, one who stores and looks after provisions; L. striatus, striped; 

L. gnseus, gray.) 

Sciurus striatus LiNN, 1 758, Syst. Nat., X ed. i, p. 64. 

Tamias striatus Baird, 1857, llth Smiths. Rep., p. 55. 

Type Locality. — South-eastern United States. 

Tamias striatus griseus Mearns, 1 89 1, Bull. Am. Mus. N. 
Hist., HI, p. 231. 

Type Locality. — Fort Snelling, Minn. 

French Canadian, le Suisse. 
Cree and Ojib., a h-gwin-gwis\ 
Saut. and Muskego, Ah-ging-goos\ 
Yankton Sioux, Ah-tah-chah. 
Ogallala Sioux, Hayt-kah'-lah. 

The genus Tamias (Illiger, 181 1) comprises small Squir- 
rels, living on the ground; they have well-developed cheek 
pouches, and along the back a series of black stripes on 
brown or gray ground. 

The teeth are : 

Inc. ; prem. ; mol. - — = 20 

I -I I -I ^-1, 

In addition to these generic characters the Common or 
Eastern Chipmunk of Manitoba has the following: 

Length, about 9^ inches (241 mm.); tail, 3^ inches (82 size 
mm.); hind-foot, if inches (35 mm.). 


338 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

COLOUR On the nape, shoulders, back, and upper surface of the tail 

it is a dark pepper-and-salt, tinged with chestnut on the 
head and changing to clear orange brown on rump, thighs, and 
root of tail. On its back it has five stripes, which are so deep a 
brown as to pass for black. The central one, the thinnest, 
beginning at the crown, between the ears, as a deep chestnut, 
becomes black just behind the shoulders and fades in the pale 
chestnut of the rump; the other four are in pairs on each side, 
from shoulder to hip, separated by a strip of pale buffy-white. 
The eye is in a dark streak with a whitish one above and 
another below. The cheek is fawn colour with a dark streak 
across it, and fading into white on the throat. 

The flanks generally, the feet, and under side of the tail 
are pale fawn colour; inside the legs and all below, pure white. 
The tail has a black fringe or border with white tips. 

The female is similar. 

In its native surroundings its black stripes, rich colours, 
and lively habits identify it easily. 

The four races of striatus maybe briefly characterized thus: 

striatus Linn., the typical form, with a general chest- 
nut tinge, especially on the flanks. 

griseus Mearns, a larger, paler, and grayer form. 

lysteri Rich., like striatus, but larger and paler, with 
rump and thighs yellowish red, instead of 

venustus Bangs, a large bright-coloured form, with 
shortened stripes. 


RANGE Its distribution in Manitoba is that of an eastern species 

that is spreading north-westward. It is abundant about 
Ingolf; also, I am told, at Kenora. Dr. E. Coues collected 4 
specimens at Pembina; and I found it plentiful along the Red 
River down at least to lower Fort Garry. I have a specimen 

Common Chipmunk 


Map 14 — Distribution of the Eastern Chipmunk in 

taken at Morden by D. Nicholson, who tells me that It is not 
rare there. I have seen several specimens that were taken at 
Portage la Prairie, where it is common. I found it ranging 
west of Portage la Prairie for about twenty miles, but never got 
it at Carberry. On the west 
side of Turtle Mountain, V. 
Bailey found it common in 
August, 1887.' North-west- 
erly, following the line of 
the old lake shore from 
Morden, I traced it up to 
Dauphin, where it seems 
to be abundant. J. J. G. 
Rosser tells me that it is 
plentiful at Winnipegosis 
and on all high ground of 
Red Deer Point. This repre- 
sents its north-western limit 
as at present known. In Manitoba I have never found it be- 
yond the limit of the old Agassiz Lake bed (see Maps 14 and 15). 

Log-heaps, stone-piles, broken rocky ridges, wooded envi- 
banks, and ramshackle outbuildings, in dry, sunny places near ment 
woodlands, are the chosen places of the Chipmunk. We look 
for it in vain on open prairie, in gloomy unbroken forests, or in 
swamps. Though but slightly arboreal, it is at home in the 
woods, and is usually very local in distribution. A great many 
will gather at some very attractive spot, while the region 
around, though appearing to answer their needs, may be 
without Chipmunks. Sun, food, and a dry, sheltering labyrinth 
near the ground are the essentials of Chipmunk happiness. 

The home ranee of each individual is undoubtedly very home 
small. On one occasion in late June, I followed two Chip- 
munks that left the hole nearly together and set out as though 
with an object. They travelled to a small knoll covered with 
oaks, some fifty paces away. At another time (June 15, 1905) 
I saw a Chipmunk make repeated journeys between a small 

*Rep. Cm. and Mam. Dep. Agr., 1888, p. 437. 


" \ 








Tamias striatus (Linn.). 
This n.ap is founded chiefly on records by John Richardson, Audubon & Bachn^an, J. A. Allen. D. G. Elliott, E. A. Mearns. G. S. MiUer. 
°- ^=^fu^;t?er1nv«taUon wilfm"o^^^^^^ c^onf^rably on the north and west. The lines demarking the races are provisional. 


Common Chipmunk 341 

grain storehouse and its den, about fifty yards away, down hill, 
through the woods. Both these cases were at Cos Cob, Conn. 

In order to mark an individual Chipmunk for better 
observation in this regard, I caught a female that lived by our 
porch. Then I placed the cage-trap that held her in a bowl of 
deep blue-purple dye. The Chipmunk did not like it at first, 
and splashed in such vigorous protest that everything within 
three feet looked very blue. But she found it not so bad as it 
looked, and soon was sitting contentedly with only her head 
above the purple sea. To help her pass the time and evidence 
my good feeling, I offered some bread. This she accepted in 
a proper spirit and fell to eating, but held it so low that it was 
speedily dyed an intense purple, which, however, apparently 
detracted nothing from her relish. 

When taken out and dried in the sun, her back colour was 
hardly changed, but her breast, throat, and feet were of a most 
distinctive imperial hue. I took her to the woods to a place 
about 150 yards from her home and set her at liberty. This was 
July 14. A Chipmunk frequented our porch all that summer, 
though I never saw it in clear light close at hand. On September 
25 I saw one there singing its full song. A cage-trap quickly 
brought it w ithin reach and I learned that it was my purple Chip- 
munk, though there was not a trace of the dye excepting on the 
bare skin of nose and feet. These were now of a bright blue. 

This and the opinions of other naturalists comprise all the 
evidence I have on the home range of the individual Chipmunk, 
and it leads me to believe that though the animal may go 100 
or 200 yards away on occasion, it ordinarily spends its entire 
life within the narrow compass of two or three acres. 

Furthermore, so far as I have seen, the species does noth- non- 
ing in the way of migration. Dr. Merriam, on the other hand, tory 
states his belief that the Adirondack Chipmunks are migratory: 

In June, he says,- "the species attains its maximum in 
numbers, the young and old together inhabiting all parts of 

^ Mam. Ad., 1884, p. 234. 

342 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the woodland. Foreseeing that the nut crop will fail (this being 
the even year), they commonly emigrate in July and do not 
again appear till September or October of the ensuing year. 

" Briefly, then (leaving out of consideration the small 
number of resident individuals, and the migrants that some- 
times pass through on their way to distant parts), we find 
Chipmunks reach the Adirondack region during September and 
October of the odd years (nut years), remaining till the follow- 
ing July. They then depart and are not seen again till the 
autumn of the next year. Hence they are here about ten 
months and absent about fourteen months, the period of 
greatest abundance being in June of the even years (when 
there are no nuts)." 

I do not find in this conclusive proof that the species is 
migratory. I cannot learn that any one ever saw a migration 
of Chipmunks. Nor are they known to appear in unusual 
numbers elsewhere in the season in question. One or other 
of these facts seems to me necessary to support the theory of 

At Cos Cob, Conn., the Chipmunks had abounded up to 
the autumn of 1907. The nut crop was a failure that year. 
In the spring of 1908 a melancholy change had come over the 
woods. There was no spring chorus and only three Chipmunks 
were discovered after a thorough investigation covering weeks. 
All three were at places where they could live on corn put out 
for the ducks. In June there seemed to be a slight increase in 
the number of adult Chipmunks, which added a perplexity to 
the problem. But I am still inclined to think that the increased 
numbers of Chipmunks in the Adirondacks during nut years 
is, that the plentiful food supply permits actual increase, and 
in famine years they die. They seem most abundant in June 
of the nutless years, because the scarcity of food compels them 
to be out and stirring all the time, and so they are much in 

^ Since the above was written John Burroughs writes me that in the summer of 1908 
the Chipmunks appeared at Roxbur)', N. Y., in extraordinary numbers. So the question 
remains open. 

Common Chipmunk 343 

When autumn came the ground was pebbled over with 
hundreds of bushels of acorns, chestnuts and hickory nuts, 
but there were no Chipmunk hordes. There seemed to be a 
slight increase in their number, but less than reproductive 
increase would have explained. Four times in the third week 
of October did I hear a solitary Chipmunk strive to raise the 
chorus as he perched on some stump, but in each case there 
was but one voice. The merry host of a year before was no 
longer in the woods. 

The only migration I have seen among them is like that of 
the flowers — the summer, above ground; the winter, below. 

There is, in this connection, nevertheless, another curious 
circumstance that I have noted each year at Cos Cob, Conn. 
It is the practical disappearance in July of the otherwise 
abundant Chipmunks. I do not know of any satisfactory 
explanation, for when August comes they seem as numerous 
as ever. 

The greatest abundance of this species that I ever saw in abun- 
the North-west was at Ingolf, which is on the Canadian Pacific 
Railway just east of the Manitoban line. During a visit there 
in 1904 I found both this species and Eutamias neglectus in 
numbers about the railroad siding, where long lines of grain 
cars, jolted at start or stop, had made the place a delectable 
forage ground for the ever-growing hordes of Chipmunks that 
found an ideal residence among the tumbled rocks composing 
the railroad dump. Among these they had excavated, or 
found, endless labyrinths which doubtless afforded them 
security from many enemies. 

The railway is an important agent in the distribution of 
several animals, forming, as it does, a plain sunny opening in the 
forest, a continuous sheltering bank on the prairie, a means of 
crossing rivers, and a long chain of food supplies through the 
waste from grain cars. 

During the two days at Ingolf I saw perhaps 25 of the 
large species, but the residents told me that they were now far 
from their usual number; on warm days earlier in the month 

344 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ten times as many might have been seen. Already (September 
i6), apparently, some of them had retired for the season. 

Along the wooded banks of the Red River and Assiniboine 
River, the tangled brushy banks afford to the Chipmunks good 
concealment as well as plenty of nut and seed supplies. Here, 
though they are less abundant than at Ingolf, I found them so 
generally distributed that it would be safe to estimate their 
number at a pair for every fifty yards along the river front. 

At Cos Cob, Conn., the species abounds. Along the drive 
which passes through the woods for 700 yards, I found 7 or 
perhaps 8 pairs. This would give about i pair to each acre. 
A favourite hollow just back of the house, however, has as 
many as the entire drive, although it is less than half an acre 
in extent. 

One pair to the acre is over 1,000 Chipmunks to the square 
mile, and this I should say is well within their numbers in all 
the half-cultivated parts of their range in years of abundance. 
But in places of high cultivation like Ohio, and south-western 
Manitoba, or of no cultivation at all, like northern Ontario and 
north-eastern Manitoba, I should divide the figures by 100, and 
on this basis reckon up the Chipmunk population of their 
entire range at not less than 20,000,000 in years of abundance, 
and in years of disaster, reduce it to a quarter as many. 

sociA- The Chipmunk is quite sociable as well as gregarious. 

BILITY . . . 

Not only do they associate in numbers where the surroundings 
are attractive, but they unite in several efforts, notably the 
spring chorus described later, and, as Kennicott remarks,* 
"sometimes, though not always, several pairs occupy the same 
burrow in winter, the store of food being common property." 

Some interesting observations on their sociability are thus 
supplied by John Burroughs.^ 

"One March morning after a light fall of snow I saw 
where one had come up out of his hole, which was in the side 
of our path to the vineyard, and after a moment's survey of the 
surroundings had started off on his travels. I followed the 

* Quad. 111., 1857, p. 72. ^ Squir. and Furbearers, 1900, pp. 23-24. 

Common Chipmunk 345 

track to see where he had gone. He had passed through my 
wood pile, then under the beehives, then around the study 
and under some spruces, and along the slope to the hole of 
a friend of his, about sixty yards from his own. Apparently he 
had gone in here, and then his friend had come forth with him. 
for there were two tracks leading from this doorway. Then I 
followed them to a third humble entrance, not far off, where the 
tracks were so numerous that I lost the trail. It was pleasing 
to see the evidence of their morning sociability written there 
upon the new snow." 

In Manitoba the common species appears above ground spring 
about the first or second week of April, that is, as soon as warm 
weather has surely set in. The regularity with which the 
Chipmunks appear, with the first soft wind of spring, sets me 
wondering sometimes whether there is not something more than 
mere verbiage in the phrase, ''vernal influence." Snug in their 
deep, dark abode, far beyond reach of sun or frost, they cannot 
be reached or touched by mere temperature, nor can it be that 
they appear at a set time, as some of our winter-sleepers are 
said to do. No! They must come forth on the very day when 
first the very spring is in the land. A Chipmunk announces 
its return to sunlight in a manner worthy of a bird. Mounted 
on some log or root it reiterates a loud chirpy ''chuck-chuck- 
chuck." Other Chipmunks run from their holes, for they 
awaken almost in a body, they run forth into the sunlight, and, 
seeking some perch, add their ''chuck-chuck-chuck'' to the 
spring salute. So the glad news spreads from point to point, 
from stone-pile and log-heap, to brush-heap and fence, sum- 
moning all the race to come forth and take part in the national 

This jubilant method of receiving the spring-time I have 
seen only in the eastern part of America, for the good reason 
that I never happened to be in the forest regions of Manitoba 
when the event should take place, but I am told by many that 
in our province the big Chipmunk fully maintains the tradition 
of its family. 

346 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In the wooded parts of Minnesota the coming forth of the 
Chipmunks is a recognized event among the young Indians 
and is celebrated, Dr. Charles Eastman informs me, by a 
special hunt. As soon as the bright, warm days of spring arrive 
to make it possible the boys go forth between sunrise and nine 
o'clock to some well-known Chipmunk haunt, where one of 
their number, who is adept in imitating the creatures' notes, 
begins the chorus by a loud chirping. The Chipmunks pop 
out of their holes on all sides. "Sometimes as many as 50 
will come together and hold a social reunion." ^ Then, seeking 
some high perch, they join in the spring music with a concen- 
trated energy that seems to make them heedless of danger, 
and soon they fall in numbers to the blunt-headed arrows of 
the little Indians. 

VOICE They are active from this time on, and their sunny morning 

chorus is not by any means confined to that original outburst. 

On April 29, 1905, at Cos Cob, Conn., I heard a Chip- 
munk in full song. He kept it up for eleven minutes without 
ceasing, and uttered 130 chirps to the minute. He got no 
reply, though he worked very hard and seemed tired toward the 
last. I made the sketch of him which appears as the upper 
figure in Plate XXXIII. 

On May 28, 1905, at Cos Cob, I heard a Chipmunk singing; 
he kept it up for three minutes, uttering three chirps to the second. 

On June 11, 1905, at the same place, I saw a Chipmunk 
uttering the ^^chuck-chuck'' chorus at the rate of fifteen chirps 
to ten seconds; five or six of his kind were in sight, but only 
one joined in; it was 100 feet away. When I drew near they 
changed to the much higher danger note and dived below. 
Early in September, 1906, at Cos Cob, I timed a singing 
Chipmunk. It kept on for six minutes, uttering at the fastest 
170 chirps to the minute. While most of these uttered the deep 
musical *' chuck," others used as the unit of the song a high 
chirp exactly like the alarm note. I never heard one making 
this sound while up a tree. I believe both sexes sing. 

* Indian Boyhood, by Charles Eastman, 1902, p. 92. 

Common Chipmunk 347 

Besides the loud ^^chuck-chuck'' song It has several other 
notes, one in particular being a trilled whistle of several differ- 
ent notes that it utters when alarmed. This usually accom- 
panies the final rush that it makes into a place of safety; pos- 
sibly it is uttered in defiance of its pursuer, or it may be like 
the nervous squeal of a child just escaping being caught in a 

There Is much mystery about the mating of the Chip- mating 
munks. Unquestionably they have a season of excitement 
during the autumn. Rhoads thinks^ that this may be the 
mating season, as the Tree and Flying-squirrels are known to 
mate in late autumn or early winter, according to latitude. I 
certainly saw the small Chipmunk of the High Sierra rutting 
in late September. Then, again, the Chipmunk of the Northern 
States will come out, like the proverbial Woodchuck, in Febru- 
ary and race about Hke mad. This E. W. Nelson thinks' must 
be their rut. But these same proofs are found In a greater de- 
gree during the excitement of the early spring, with the addi- 
tional evidence of the sexual organs being in a high state of 
functional activity. The visiting Chipmunks described by 
Burroughs may have been seeking mates. As late as May 5 a 
male Chipmunk caught for examination (Cos Cob, 1906) 
showed by the condition of the organs that this was its season 
of procreation. 

On May 6 I found at the same place a female dead in a rat 
trap, apparently a week or ten days after the birth of her brood. 
Another female caught that day for examination was obviously 
at the point of becoming a mother. 

As early as May 21, at Cos Cob, Conn., the young, already 
half grown, have been seen, and on September 27, 1906, I saw 
two, about half grown, follow an old one for some fifty feet from 
the den. On October 8 I captured for examination a female 
that was, or recently had been, suckling young. On October 
14 I saw a half-grown Chipmunk playing about the door of 
Its parental home. 

' Mam. Penn., N. J., 1903, p. 62. ^ Ibid. 

348 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In Pennsylvania, during late October, S. N. Rhoads col- 
lected ^ some two-thirds grown Chipmunks which could not 
have been born much earlier than late July. 

How are we to reconcile all this evidence ? Is it not pos- 
sible that the species has several ruts in the year, and those 
females that are impregnated in the fall have a protracted 
gestation, as has been observed in certain other mammals that 
hibernate ? It seems probable at least that two broods are 
produced each year. 

Nevertheless, the principal season of sexual ardor is that of 
early spring. Though the others are open to question, there 
can be no doubt in the case of the spring-time revel. So that, 
beginning with the general awakening, the first month of their 
vernal life is given up to love, music, and feasting. It was for 
this merry month of carnival that the abundant supplies were 
laid up the year before. Food is now scarce everywhere, 
there is snow in the woods, there may even be more snow 
storms, and the Chipmunks' joy might seem likely to precede 
disaster had they not provided against the possibility of evil 
days. For a month or more their chief dependence will be 
this garnered product of the year gone by. 

BREED- Whether they pair or not I cannot say; most naturalists 

believe that they do. I have usually found two old Chipmunks 
in each hole except when the young were very small; then the 
mother alone is seen about. The time of gestation, judging 
from analogy, should be about a month, but I have no direct 
evidence, and the fact of hibernation might greatly prolong the 
period in those females that were newly pregnant when entering 
on their winter sleep. 

Rhoads thinks^" "it is not unlikely that the female Chip- 
munk during parturition, and for some time after the birth of 
her young, does not leave the burrow, but either lives on the 
food she has stored there, or is fed by her male partner." 

The following note bears on their habits at this season: 
On May 29, 1905, I caught the Chipmunk that lives in the 

" Ibid. '» Ihid. 










Fig. 117 — Pose=, etc., of Common Chipmunk (71 siriatus). 
The central figure is to show two musk glands on each side of the anu& 


350 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

bank west of the house. It proved to be a female, she had the 
usual teats, but only four in 'commission.' I caught her 
again in the afternoon in the same place. Each time on being 
released she took refuge in a hole remote from the nest hole, 
once twenty-five feet away, once fifty feet away. I have never 
seen more than one old one about this hole. 

DEN I am not aware that any one has ever watched a Chipmunk 

actually at work burrowing, but circumstantial evidence shows 
that it adopts an ingenious method of concealing the entrance. 
Beginning at any convenient point in the selected bank, it 
drives a long crooked tunnel with an outlet in some thicket or 
sunny bank. All the earth is carried out and left as a mound 
at the entrance; when the burrow is finished this over-conspicu- 
ous hole is permanently closed up. Thus there is little outward 
sign of the real doorway to the home. The calibre of the bur- 
row is one and a half to two inches. I do not beheve that 
the Chipmunk brings earth out in its cheek pouches; these 
are reserved exclusively for food. 

A curious instance of pertinacity on the part of the species 
took place at my home, Cos Cob, Conn. A Chipmunk had 
decided to make a doorway in the middle of the drive. Ac- 
cordingly the tunnel appeared, bored from below. I filled it up 
with coarse gravel, and packed it tight for at least a foot down 
into the burrow. Two days later it was reopened from below. 
Again it was rammed full of hard gravel, to be opened again, 
and within forty-eight hours. Sixteen times during one month 
did I stop up this hole, and as often it was reopened from 
below. What became of the bushels of gravel I could not find 
out, but a general depression at that part of the drive began to 
show. At the end of five weeks' struggle I went away from 
home, for a rest, the Chipmunk triumphantly completing its 
earthworks. That was in 1903, and he held it peacefully 
throughout 1904. 

In 1905 I renewed the attempt. For thirty successive days 
in the month of May I closed the hole once, or sometimes twice, 
in a day, and as often it was opened from below. Twice only 

Common Chipmunk 351 

was it opened from the outside, and in each case I saw the 
animal outside when I closed the hole. From this 1 argue that 
he had but one doorway, and whatever he did with the earth, 
it was not brought out of that doorway. Possibly in this case 
it was stowed in some rock cranny under the drive, which was 
founded on large stones. In July, though no longer persecuted, 
this Chipmunk abandoned the hole, perhaps because of the 
various annoyances, though it must be remembered that July 
is the season when all the Chipmunks seem to disappear. In 
August he reopened it, and dwelt there till snowfall said "bed- 
time." In 1906 I renewed the battle, but desisted at the end 
of summer. That Chipmunk holds the fort to-day, Septem- 
ber, 1906, and has the satisfaction of giving a jolt to every car- 
riage that too rudely passes his door. The species is known to 
be wonderfully tenacious of its holdings. Where you find a 
Chipmunk this year you are likely to find one next year, prob- 
ably the same Chipmunk. This is a marked contrast with 
the habits of the Woodchuck. 

One of the dens was opened ^^ in November, by Kennicott 
who found that it had for storage " four or five enlarged cham- 
bers, in different parts of the burrow, which was complicated 
and consisted of several windings and intersecting passages situ- 
ated not over a foot below the surface. The entrance to the 
burrow was under a log, and the passages extended several feet 
on every side. A large nest of leaves and grass was placed 
above the surface, under the rotten log. Only one of the in- 
habitants was found, but he was quite active." 

The young number 4 or 5, and are, as usual with the group, young 
blind, helpless, naked, and almost shapeless little pink pillules 
of vitality. The nest prepared for them is deep in the ground 
and is approached by a network of burrows. So far as I 
know the female alone cares for the young. By June they are 
sufficiently grown to venture outdoors, and when half grown 
they will follow the mother forty or fifty feet from the door. 
In August most of the young Chipmunks are fully grown and 

" Quad. 111., 1857, p. 72. 

352 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

able to shift for themselves. Possibly the 3 or 4 individuals 
often found in the winter den are the family of that year. 

Evidence of this is given by Rhoads who says:'^ "That 
many Chipmunks enter and appear to be at home in the same 
burrow in the late fall, is evidenced by my having trapped at 
the mouth of a single burrow, between the 15th and 25th of 
October, on the mountain three miles above Round Island, 
Clinton County, Pa., 7 full-grown Chipmunks, of which i was 
an adult female, i an adult male, i a young female and 4 
young males. Three of the young males and the young female 
were so nearly alike in size that I think them the offspring of 
the old pair, and that it was likely they all were expecting to 
hibernate, with the exception of the fourth young male, in this 
retreat. Of course this is only circumstantial evidence, but it is 
probable, as the 4 young were hardly able to hew out among 
those rocky fastnesses a retreat for themselves that year." 

HABITS The Chipmunk has the vivacity as well as the voice of a 

bird, combined with something of the Squirrel and even of the 
rat in its disposition, but in an exterior so attractive that one 
readily forgets the evil strain that betrays its low relationship. 

Its combined nervousness and curiosity are admirably 
pictured thus by Merriam:^^ 

"He is partial to brush-heaps, wood-piles, stone walls, 
rail fences, accumulations of old rubbish, and other places that 
afford him a pretty certain escape, and at the same time enable 
him to see what is transpiring outside. For, though by no 
means wary, he delights in these loosely sheltered hiding- 
places, where he can whisk in and out at will, peep unobserved 
at passers-by, and dart back when prudence demands. If 
suddenly surprised he utters a sharp chtp'-pe/-r-r-r, and makes 
a quick dash for his retreat, which is no sooner reached than, 
simultaneously with the disappearance of his tail, out pops his 
head, his keen dark eyes gazing intently at the source of alarm. 
If not pursued farther he is very apt to advance toward the 
supposed enemy, betraying his excitement by a series of nerv- 

*^ Mam. Penn. and N. J., 1903, p. 62. " Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 237. 

Common Chipmunk 353 

ous starts and precipitous retreats, till finally, making a bold 
rush, he dashes by the object of his dread, and in another 
instant is peering out from a hole beneath the roots of a neigh- 
bouring tree. 

''Though a very inquisitive creature, this habit does not 
seem to be attributable to curiosity alone, but rather to the 
same reckless foolhardiness that prompts the small boy to 
cross and recross the road in front of a swiftly advancing 
carriage or locomotive,'* 

Although at home among tangled underbrush and log 
heaps, the Chipmunk is a poor climber compared with the 
Red-squirrel. It seldom goes far from the ground, and never 
for sport. It usually climbs for food or for refuge. 

Regarding this point, Kennicott says:^* 

"Dr. Hoy informs me that he once observed a number of 
Chipmunks climbing the bushes of the prickly ash {Xanthoxy- 
lum americanum) to obtain the berries, which they were carry- 
ing to their burrows in considerable quantities. At another 
time, he saw one repeatedly climb a hickory and cut off the un- 
ripe nuts, which were brought to the ground, and, while yet 
covered with the green pericarp, placed in a hole at the root of 
the tree which, however, was not its burrow; and he was told 
that the same individual was noticed to carry away nuts in this 
manner for some days. Though this species does not generally 
climb trees, except when pursued, I am inclined to think it 
does so voluntarily more frequently than is supposed." 

Merriam records having seen Chipmunks gathering beech 
nuts at a height of sixty feet up the trees, and W. Brewster 
writes me: "I saw one in Concord last June (1904) climb an 
elm fifty feet in height to the very topmost slender spray, where 
it remained several minutes eating elm seeds. I have never 
before known a Chipmunk essay such a feat of tree climbing." 

I have several times seen the same thing at lesser heights, 
and commonly found the individuals immature. If, when pur- 
sued, they cannot find a hole, they commonly scramble up a 
tree, but are then far from being at home, and soon make up 

"Quad.Ill, i857,p. 71. 

354 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

their minds to come down, especially if their inspection shows 
that no dog is about. In spite of sticks and shouts they 
descend till almost within reach, then with a final rush they 
reach the ground and usually some safe refuge that they had 
decided on while up aloft. 

SWIM- An exciting chase of a Chipmunk by a Brown Weasel is 


described by J. W. Curran, of Montreal, in "Forest and 
Stream" for June 2, 1900. It happened at Lake Couchiching, 
Ont., in July, 1899. The Chipmunk took to the water, closely 
followed by the Weasel. After a chase of 100 yards the former 
drew away from his foe and escaped. 

FOOD The food of the Chipmunk is chiefly seeds, berries, and 

nuts, but insects, flesh, and birds' eggs also enter into its summer 
bill of fare. 

Kennicott says:^^ "Like the true Squirrels, the Chip- 
munks are properly nut-eaters, though they feed rather more on 
the seeds of small plants than their arboreal relatives; nor do 
they subsist upon the buds of trees." But several naturahsts 
have testified that the Chipmunk does not confine itself to 
vegetable diet. A. J. Cook, of Lansing, Mich., states ^^ that a 
Chipmunk was observed nibbling at a snake that had been 
recently killed. He could hardly be driven away, and soon 
returned to his feast when his tormentors had withdrawn to a 
short distance. A still more remarkable incident is recorded " 
by Alexander Wilson, the Ornithologist. It shows that the 
Chipmunk is as omnivorous as any of its omnivorous tribe, and 
can on occasion play the part of a Httle tiger in its own little 

" My venerable friend, Mr. William Bartram, informs me 
that he saw one of these birds [spotted sandpiper] defend her 
young for a considerable time from the repeated attacks of a 
Ground-squirrel. The scene of action was the river shore. 
The parent had thrown herself with her two young behind her 

"Quad. 111., 1857, p. 71. ''Am. Nat., March, 1870, p. 58. 

" Am. Cm., Vol. II, pp. 342-3. 

Common Chipmunk 355 

between them and the land; and at every attempt of the 
Squirrel to seize them by a circuitous sweep, raised both her 
wings in an almost perpendicular position, assuming the most 
formidable appearance she was capable of, and rushed forward 
on the Squirrel, who, intimidated by her boldness of manner, 
instantly retreated; but presently returning, was met as before, 
in front and on flank, by the daring and affectionate bird, who 
with her wings and whole plumage bristling up, seemed swelled 
to twice her usual size. The young crowded together behind 
her, apparently sensible of their perilous situation, moving 
backward and forward as she advanced or retreated. This 
interesting scene lasted for at least ten minutes; the strength of 
the poor parent began evidently to flag, and the attacks of the 
Squirrel became more daring and frequent, when my good 
friend, like one of those celestial agents, who, in Homer's time, 
so often decided the palm of victory, stepped forward from his 
retreat, drove the assailant back to his hole, and rescued the 
innocent from destruction." 

Let us hope that this was a Chipmunk of unusual deprav- 
ity; nevertheless we can find others of his tribe that are equally 
abandoned. Brewster writes me: "While collecting at Crooked 
Lake, Mich., in May, 1888, I shot at a wood thrush and 
broke its wing. As it fluttered off over the ground a Chipmunk 
pursued and caught it. When I reached the spot the Chip- 
munk had killed the bird and eaten most of its brains. I had 
to kick at the Chipmunk to make it give up the thrush. 
Afterward as I held the bird dangling in my hand the Chip- 
munk approached and jumped up, trying to snatch it from me." 

Furthermore, we find in Audubon and Bachman's Quad- 
rupeds^* this paragraph: 

"A lady in the vicinity of Boston said to us, 'We had in 
our garden a nest of young robins {Turdus migratorius), and 
one afternoon as I was walking in the garden I happened to 
pass very close to the tree on which the nest was placed; my 
attention was attracted by a noise which I thought proceeded 
from it, and on looking up I saw a Ground-squirrel tearing 

" Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 69. 

356 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

at the nest, and actually devouring one of the young ones. I 
called to the gardener, who came, accompanied by a dog, and 
shook the tree violently, when the animal fell to the earth, 
and was in an instant secured by the dog.' " 

In the train of this we are not surprised to find Rhoads' 
statement^'' that "they not only eat insects, snakes, mice, birds, 
eggs, and various species of shelled snails, but have been known 
to devour each other when wounded or caught in a trap." 

STORAGE All summer long, May, June, July, August, September, 
and October, in Connecticut, I have observed the Chipmunks 
carry home great bulging pouchfuUs of food. Sundry of my 
notes taken at Cos Cob in 1905 run as follows: 

May 28, Chipmunk on bank west of the house popped into 
hole with full cheeks and out again in half a minute with cheeks 

June 8. All summer, so far, I have seen the Chipmunks 
carrying food in the cheeks, and have heard them in full song. 
I saw an old one at the brook drinking like a little pig. 

June 15. Saw a Chipmunk carrying home two pouches 
full of stuff, from a place over 1 50 feet away. The young are 
now out, but rarely with their mother. 

October 9. Chipmunks hard at work. Saw one carrying 
acorns from our lawn down to a place fifty yards away. He 
made four trips in ten minutes while I watched, and kept right 
on. He took several acorns in his pouches each time, so that 
his head seemed enormous. It was about i p. M. 

October 27. Chipmunks very numerous and busy storing 
food; often singing. These little animals seem to have a 
premonition of storms and a dislike to face them. Whenever 
they were exceptionally busy we found it meant a falling 
barometer, and during a three-days' storm they never appeared, 
subsisting comfortably, no doubt, on the "hay made while 
the sun shone." 

The name Tamias (the steward) was given to this bright 
little creature because of its admirable foresight in laying up 

"Mam. Penn. and N. J., 1903, p. 63. 

Common Chipmunk 357 

provision for times of storm and scarcity, and it is in its prepara- 
tion for the dread season that the Chipmunk is chiefly noted. 
In the bright actinic days of autumn, when nuts and acorns are 
showering down in the groves, the Chipmunk is toihng from 
sunrise till sunset to take advantage of the opportunity; filling 
its granaries to insure itself against starvation that comes stalk- 
ing through these same woods, and not so very far ahead. The 
soundest nuts and seeds are its choice. Never is it known to 
defile its warehouse with flesh, insects, carrion or any of the 
perishable things that it does not hesitate to eat if they fall in 
its way while abroad. Its principal stores are hidden in 
chambers carefully prepared underground in connection with 
its home den. The ample cheek-pouches with which the species 
is provided, enable it to take as much as a dozen hazel nuts to 
its hole at a single journey. 

Bachman found -^ that they could carry four hickory nuts 
at a time. I learned by experiment on a dead specimen that 
four acorns of the white oak were as much as each pocket could 
comfortably hold. 

Audubon and Bachman caught one with no fewer than 
sixteen chinquapin nuts {Castanea pumila) stowed away in its 
cheek-pouches, and they add: "We have a specimen now ly- 
ing before us, sent from Pennsylvania in alcohol, which con- 
tains at least one and a half table-spoonfuls of bush trefoil 
(Hedysarum cannabinum) in its widely distended sacks." 
{Ibid., p. 69.) 

As the calibre of its hole is about two inches, it is not 
surprising that the Chipmunk often returns home with cheeks 
so distended that it must turn its head sideways to enter at all. 
The method of filling the pouches is admirably described by the 
talented naturalist cited above. 

**Some years ago [he says^^] I watched one of these animals 
whilst laying up its winter store. As there were no nuts to be 
found near, I furnished a supply. After scattering some 
hickory nuts on the ground near the burrow, the work of carry- 
ing in was immediately commenced. It soon became aware 

* Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 70. '' Ibid. 

358 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

that I was a friend, and approached almost to my feet for my 
gifts. It would take a nut from its paws and dexterously htte 
off the sharp point from each end, and then pass it to its cheek 
pouch, using its paws to shove it in, then one would be placed 
on the opposite side, then again one along with the first, and 
finally, having taken one between its front teeth, it would go 
into the burrow. After remaining there for five or ten minutes 
it would reappear for another load." 

The Gray-squirrel stores its food in numberless places, 
sometimes a single nut in each. Usually these are found in the 
ground, where it could not utilize the food during frosty weather. 
Maybe this points to a southern origin for the species. The 
Red-squirrel, a creature of more northern range and yet rarely 
hibernating, stores its food in one or two large storehouses 
where it can find it, when most it is needed, no matter how hard 
the frost or deep the snow. The Chipmunk seems to do both 
ways, or to compromise between them. 

** In addition to their storehouses," Dr. Merriam observes,^^ 
**they frequently, like the Gray-squirrel, make little caches, 
burying here and there beneath the leaves the contents of their 
cheek pouches." 

Mr. Ira Sayles thus graphically describes" this habit: 

"I lately noticed in my garden a bright-eyed Chipmunk, 
Sciurus striatus, advancing along a line directly toward me. 
He came briskly forward, without deviating a hair's breadth to 
the right or the left, until within two feet of me; then turned 
square toward my left — his right — and went about three feet 
or less. Here he paused a moment and gave a sharp look all 
around him, as if to detect any lurking spy on his movements. 
(His distended cheeks revealed his business — he had been out 
foraging.) He now put his nose to the ground, and, aiding 
this member with both forepaws, thrust his head and shoulders 
down through the dry leaves and soft muck, half burying him- 
self in an instant. 

"At first I thought him after the bulb of an Erythronium, 
that grew directly in front of his face and about three inches from 

^ Mam. Adir, 1884, pp. 235-6. ^ Am. Nat., June, 1870, p. 249. 

Common Chipmunk 359 

it. I was the more confirmed in this supposition by the shaking 
of the plant. Presently, however, he became comparatively 
quiet. In this state he remained, possibly half a minute. He 
then commenced a vigorous action, as if digging deeper; but 
I noticed that he did not get deeper; on the contrary, he was 
gradually backing out. I was surprised that, in all his appar- 
ent hard work (he worked like a man on a wager), he threw 
back no dirt. But this vigorous labour could not last long. 
He was very soon completely above ground, and then became 
manifest the object of his earnest work; he was refilling the 
hole he had made, and repacking the dirt and leaves he had 
disturbed. Nor was he content with simply refilling and re- 
packing the hole. With his two little hand-like feet he patted 
the surface, and so exactly replaced the leaves that, when he had 
completed the task, my eye could detect not the slightest difi^er- 
ence between the surface he had so cunningly manipulated and 
that surrounding it. Having completed his task, he raised 
himself into a sitting posture, looked with a very satisfied air, 
and then silently dodged off into a bush-heap, some ten feet 
distant. Here he ventured to stop and set up a triumphant 
'chip, chip, chip.' 

*' It was now my turn to dig, in order to discover the little 
miser's treasures. I gently removed enough of the leaves and 
fine muck to expose his hoard — half a pint of buttercup seeds, 
Ranunculus acris." 

I think, however, that Kennicott was right in holding the 
view that these little caches are for temporary use; long before 
winter all the Chipmunk's stores are doubtless contained in 
one or two granaries. The Illinois naturalist thus comments:-^ 

"The quantity of nuts, acorns, and seeds sometimes col- 
lected by these industrious little fellows is astonishing. They 
are frequently stored temporarily under logs, and in shallow 
holes under roots of trees, and afterward removed to the 
burrow at a more leisure season. I have known lazy people 
to watch the Chipmunks in nutting time, and finding where 
they carried their stores, dig them out, saying they could 

**Quad. Ill, 1857, p. 72. 

360 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

thus get nuts faster than by picking them up themselves. In 
a burrow dug open in November I found over half a bushel 
of hickory nuts and acorns." 

Another opened in January by Audubon and Bachman is 
thus described i^"^ 

''There was about a gill of wheat and buckwheat in the 
nest; but in the galleries we afterward dug out, we obtained 
about a quart of the beaked hazel nuts {Corylus rostrata), nearly 
a peck of acorns, some grains of Indian corn, about two quarts 
of buckwheat, and a very small quantity of grass seeds. The 
late Dr. John Wright, of Troy, in an interesting communication 
on the habits of several of our quadrupeds, informs us, in refer- 
ence to the species, that 'it is a most provident little creature, 
continuing to add to its winter store, if food is abundant, until 
driven in by the severity of the frost. Indeed, it seems not 
to know when it has enough, if we may judge by the surplus 
left in the spring, being sometimes a peck of corn or nuts for a 
single Squirrel.'" 

Evidently these two famous naturalists overlooked the fact, 
already noted, that spring is the time of the hard pinch. 

In Manitoba the serious gathering of supplies is confined, 
I think, to August and September, though they lose no oppor- 
tunity, while the weather continues warm, working from sun- 
rise till sunset, or even a little later, but never by night. 

DIURNAL So far as I have been able to observe the Chipmunk is 

strictly diurnal. Audubon depicts the barn owl — most noctur- 
nal of its tribe — with a Chipmunk in its claws; doubtless he 
had some good reason for this, but I do not know what it was. 

ENEMIES Among the Chipmunk's enemies are cats. Foxes, Weasels, 

hawks, and snakes, but the smaller Weasels are probably the 
most destructive of its foes. It has only one means of escape 
from these bloodthirsty little fiends, and that is retreating into 
some side gallery of the burrow, and then plugging with earth 
the passage behind it. I never saw this done, but I have often 

-* Quad. N. A., 1849, P- 7°- 

Common Chipmunk 361 

found the burrows of small rodents so plugged when I was after 
them. I am satisfied that it was done by themselves, and that 
it is a deliberate attempt to baffle an enemy by hiding from him. 
It is very certain that if not foiled by some such expedient a 
Weasel on entering the labyrinth of a colony could easily 
follow his bent — hunting down and killing every member of 
the community before he moved to fresh fields of carnage. 

That he does so at times is attested by the following from 
the pen of Bachman:^" 

*'We once observed one pursue a Chipping Squirrel into 
its burrow; after an interval often minutes it reappeared, lick- 
ing its mouth, and stroking its fur with its head by the aid of 
its long neck. We watched it as it pursued its way through a 
buckwheat field, in which many roots and stumps were yet 
remaining, evidently in quest of additional victims. On the 
following day we were impelled by curiosity to open the burrow 
we had seen it enter. There we found an old female Ground- 
squirrel and five young, half grown, lying dead, with the 
marks of the Weasel's teeth in their skulls." 

I have not seen a case of the parasitic cuterebra or warble 
in the species, yet I should be surprised to find it immune when 
most of its relatives are afflicted by this pest. 

Toward the end of October in Southern Ontario and h.\bits 


Connecticut, and in September in Manitoba, the Chipmunks autumn 
vary their labours of storing food by a musical outburst that 
closely resembles the chorus of spring. When the morning is 
bright and warm some lusty fellow gets up on a perch and 
begins to ''chuck-chuck-chuck'' If psychologically well timed, 
his invitation at once provokes abundant and rapturous 
response. Every Chipmunk mounts his perch, and they make 
the woods ring for several minutes with their united voices. 

We must remember that the winter is a period of perpetual 
sleep to them; they are practically dead from October to 
March. This autumn outburst of song then is but a few ac- 

=« Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 72. 

362 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

tive days before their mating season in March. I wonder, there- 
fore, whether the performance has not in it something of erotic 

There is yet another mystery about the Chipmunk. 
Animals which hibernate become enormously fat just before 
their retirement. This is a supposed essential of the procedure 
and yet the Chipmunk does not. Of forty specimens se- 
cured by Rhoads" at Greenwood Lake, N. J., in the last of 
October " no really fat one was found among them, though 
the acorns, which they were busily harvesting and storing away, 
were abundant." One might argue from this that their torpor 
is not very profound. Kennicott and Bachman made observa- 
tions that lead to this same conclusion. Of those that the latter 
unearthed in January under five inches of snow, he says:^^ 
*'They were not dormant, and seemed ready to bite when taken 
in the hand; but they were not very active, and appeared some- 
what sluggish and benumbed, which we conjectured was owing 
to their being exposed to sudden cold from our having opened 
their burrow." 

My own observations at Toronto would prove the lethargy 
complete, and this raises the question as to whether the lati- 
tude is not a factor in the case. 

HiBER- The Woodchuck goes down sharp on time with little 

regard to weather, but the Chipmunk's autumnal disappear- 
ance seems prompted solely by the frost. If that comes in 
September it makes its final bow the day before; if the cold 
holds off till December, the Chipmunk postpones its departure 

In my notes made during several years in Toronto I find 
odd Chipmunk records all through October and this final entry 
for November i, 1889: *' To-day the cat brought in a newly 
killed Chipmunk, showing that they yet come above ground, 
although there has been a good deal of frost; the weather is 
now mild." 

^ Mam. Penna. and N. J., 1903, p. 62. *' Q. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 70. 

Common Chipmunk 


A captive specimen which I kept (also at Toronto) was 
active all winter when in a warm room; but as soon as exposed 
to a temperature near freezing point, he curled up in his sleeping 
place and took no further interest in the affairs of life. 

Many observations testify that a spell of bright warm 
weather in mid-winter will tempt the Chipmunks forth, and if, 
as happens in the Southern States, the winter should pass with- 
out sharp or continuous frost, the Chipmunks probably do not 
find it worth while to go into the long sleep at all. 


Little Chipmunk, or Long-tailed Chipmunk. 

Eutamtas quadrivittatus neglectus (Allen). 

(Gr. Eu, well or good; lamias [see ante], because this new genus is even more special- 
ized than the older Tamias — though along the same lines. L. quadrivittatus, 
from quadri, the combined form of quattuor, four, and vitta, a band, hence 
4-banded, which is unfortunate, as it has 5 bands like its kin; L. neglectus 

Sciurus quadrivittatus Say, 1 823. Long's Exp. Rky. Mts., II, 

P- 45- 
Eutarnias quadrivittatus Miller and Rehn, 1901, N. A. Ld. 

Mam., Proc. Bos. Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. XXX, No. i, p. 43. 

Type Locality. — Near Canon City, Colorado. 

Tamias quadrivittatus neglectus Allen, 1890. Bull. Am. Mus. 

N. H., Ill, p. 106, June. 
Eutarnias quadrivittatus neglectus MiLLER and Rehn, 1 901, 

N. A. Ld. Mam., Proc. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. XXX, 

No. I, p. 44. 
Type Locality. — Eastern shore of Lake Superior, Ont. 

French Canadian, le petit Suisse. 

Chipewyan, Thal-coo'-zay. 

Cree, ^^ Ches-se-cow-e-pis-kus" Russell. 

The genus Eutarnias (Trouessart, 1880) comprises Chip- 
munks that differ most visibly from those of the genus Tamias 


Little Chipmunk 


in being much smaller and paler, with longer tails and 2 more 

The teeth are: 

Inc. ; prem. ; mol. ^ — =22 

i-i i-i ss 

The Little Chipmunk has, in addition to the generic 
characters, the following: 

Length, about 8 inches (203 mm.); tail, 4 inches (102 size 
mm.); hind-foot, i| inches (32 mm.). 

Fig. 118 — Little Chipmunk {^Eutaniias neglectus). 
Carberry, Manitoba, 1SS4. 

In general, above it is a brownish gray, much darker on the colour 
crown, faintly peppered with darker brown on crown, back and 
haunches, and becoming clear orange-buff on the shoulders, 
sides and flanks; on the chin, throat, lower jaw and under parts 
generally it is white. There are five black stripes on the body, 
the central one longest; it begins on the crown and continues 

366 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to the tail; between the two outer black stripes on each side is a 
white stripe which dims on the neck, but reappears at the ear, 
and continues to the eye. On each side of the head are three 
dark-brown stripes — over the eye, through the eye, and under the 

Fig. 1 19 — Tracks of the Little Chipmunk, with intervals of about ten inches. 

eye. The tail is dull orange below, and above orange overlaid 
with black hairs. It has a black edging or border, which is broad- 
ened toward the end, and is tipped all round with yellow or buff. 

When seen alive its quick movements and noisy 'chir- 
rup* attract attention; its warm fawn-colour and black 
stripes mark it for a Chipmunk, while its smaller size, its 
freedom from chestnut tint, and its tail held upright, distinguish 
it from striatus and complete the identification. 

The following races are recognized: 

quadrtvittatus Say, the typical form, much paler and 
grayer than the above described. 

neglectus Allen, a bright-coloured form, tinged yellow 
on hinder parts. 

horealis Allen, smaller and yellower than quadrivitta- 
tus, but not so bright as neglectus; gray on rump. 

gracilis Allen, a larger, slenderer, and more intensely 
coloured race than quadrivittatus, with the black 
marks replaced by reddish brown. 

luteiventris Allen, above brighter coloured than quad- 
rivittatus and below buffy. 

felix Rhoads, a darker race than the typical. 

affinis Allen, a larger race; gray, especially on rump. 


RANGE The distribution of this species is that of a western animal 

that is working eastward. It is the common and abundant 
Little Chipmunk of all the wooded region and river valleys 

Little Chipmunk 


south of the Assiniboine and west of the Red River. It is 

plentiful at Wonoona, Manitoba; I did not find it north of 

Carberry or the immediate Valley of the Assiniboine, or beyond 

Fort ElUce. East of Winnipeg I noted it all along the Canadian 

Pacific Railway as far as Ingolf, where it is very abundant. 

Preble found it reported 

rather common at Oxford 

House, Keewatin, and saw 

one at Pine Lake in the 

same district.* Dr. Bell 

records- it from Nelson and 

Churchill Rivers, and G. S. 

Miller found it at Nepigon 

and Peninsula Harbour, 

Ontario.^ Thus we may 

look for this Chipmunk in 

all parts of our Province, 

and I am puzzled to aC- map i6— Distribution of the Little chipmunk in Manitoba. 
/- . . . I The spots are actual records, but the whole Province is within its 

count tor its scarcity in the accredited ran^e. 

country just north of the Assiniboine. Probably the explana- 
tion lies in faulty observation (Maps i6 and 17). 

This species selects the same surroundings as the large exvi- 
Chipmunk. Possibly it is more of a ground animal, as I never ment 
saw one up a tree. 


The home-range of the individual must be very small. «o^^/^ 
I found a pair living in a little isolated thicket about twenty yards 
in diameter. I can readily believe that, given food enough, they 
would not leave this at any time. The case noted later of an 
individual going a quarter of a mile in search of special food 
was, I believe, very exceptional. Ordinarily this Chipmunk 
will, like its larger cousin, pass its whole life in the narrow 
bounds of one or two acres. 

' N. A. Fauna, 1902, No. 22, p. 45. 

*Rep. Prog. Can. Geol. Surv., 1882-3-4, App. II, p. 4SDD (1885). 

' N. A. Fauna, 1902, No. 22, p. 46. 


This map is founded chiefly on records by G. S. MiUer, Jr., D. G. EUlott, S. N. Rhoads, J. A. Allen, E. Coues, R. Kennicot. 
V. Bailey, E. A. Preble, W. H. Osgood. R. Macfarlane, E. 1 S^ton ^^^^^ America. There are 

The species are : 

Eutamias guadrivitlatus (Say), with its 8 races. 

Eulamios tou,m.n</,-(Bachman) found alon? the Pacific coast i. 
several races, one of which enters British Columbia. 


Little Chipmunk 369 

There is, moreover, nothing of the nature of a migration non- 
among these Chipmunks. This individual fixity has had the tory 
usual result of splitting up the group into a great number of 
different forms, corresponding with the life conditions of each 

If Chipmunks were given to travel, the races which 
abound in the south and west would have been swamped, 
except where they were the simultaneous product of a large 
region. But strange to say, the Chipmunk as a species seems 
less able to transport itself from place to place than are many 
trees and plants. 

This creature is very local in distribution. It may seem abun- 
rare in a given region, then suddenly we come on some place of 
exceptionally favourable conditions and find the Chipmunks in 
numbers. At the old sawmill mentioned later, there were 
hundreds of these bright little creatures. One could have seen 
50 in ten minutes when the place was a wilderness of ram- 
shackle buildings and lumber piles. I dare say that the acre 
in which the mill stood held not less than 1,000 Chipmunks. 
But this was in the early 8o's. In 1892 the mill was gone, and 
the Chipmunks with it; still I thought the species more generally 
abundant about Carberry than in 1883. 

In Turtle Mountain, as I learn from A. S. Barton, it is 
very abundant in some years and scarce in others; whether 
this is due to epidemics, as with the Rabbits, or to famine, as 
with many species, is yet to be ascertained. 

In spring the Little Chipmunk appears about the same spring 

11 1 • 1 • 1 r I r A -1 ADVENT 

time as the larger one, that is, during the hrst week 01 April. 
At Touchwood Hills in 1902 the first one was seen on April 13. 
But its evident dependence on temperature is shown by the fact 
that in the mild season of 1905 this species appeared above 
ground at Boissevain, Man., during February, and was there- 
fore dormant but little more than two months that winter. 

It seems hardier than striatus, for in the Rocky Mountains 
of Wyoming and Colorado I often saw it running over the snow 

370 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

after winter had begun. On one occasion, 9,000 feet above the 
sea, near Breckenridge, Colo, (in 1899), as late as October 31, 
I saw one sitting up and eating under the shelter of a log 
during a driving snowstorm. 

MATING I have no information relative to its breeding habits. 
While observing a nearly related Chipmunk in the High 
Sierra of California I found evidence that its mating season is in 
September, although the young are not born till the following 
spring. So far as known, this is not the case with the present 
species. It is beheved to mate in April and produce some time 
late in May. 

HABITS The habits and actions of these bright little creatures have 

been happily described by my friend and fellow-traveller. 
Miller Christy: 

"Without exception [he says*] the Chipmunk is in its form 
and movements the very prettiest little animal I ever set eyes on. 
In it the fear of man seems to be entirely absent; it seems to 
run away merely for fun, but for all that, you would almost as 
easily catch a flash of lightning! It is incessantly upon the 
move, climbing about and over everything as if exploring, and 
always carrying its long tail bolt upright in such a ridiculous 
manner that it becomes by far the most conspicuous part of 
the whole animal. You may see one of these tails, with a Chip- 
munk attached to it, dodging round a piece of wood and eyeing 
you keenly, without the slightest appearance of fear, as if 
roguishly trying to tempt you to catch it. But try! In a mo- 
ment, with a shrill, derisive bird-like little whistle, the tail is 
gone — you hardly know where, till you see it again a moment 
later, going through exactly the same antics along with several 
other tails. 

"Among the sandhills, a few miles from Carberry, stands 
an old sawmill, which is usually deserted during the summer 
months. Round this mill Chipmunks swarm. Their holes 
run under its floor, and the creatures themselves are constantly 

*Nat. Hist. Journal and School Reporter, York, Eng., May 15, 1885, pp. 67-74. 

Little Chipmunk 371 

to be seen scaling the walls and scampering over the roof. 
One day when I was at the mill, I found that they had entered 
by a broken window, had licked clean some unwashed plates 
left on a bench, and had even taken samples of the eatables 
left in the cupboard. I went on another day to the mill in 
order to try and catch some Chipmunks alive. This I found 
a very easy thing to do with a figure-4 box-trap. The animals 
seemed perfectly unsuspecting. Whilst I was setting one of 
these a Chipmunk extracted my small store of bait from the 
paper in which it was wrapped, and consumed a considerable 
portion of it. As the little thief scampered off at my approach, 
with every appearance of laughing at me, he dropped the bread 
and I secured it; but I had no sooner done this than on looking 
round found that another Chipmunk was sitting upright on 
the top of the trap I had just set, nibbling at my bait, which he 
held in his forepaws, and eyeing me sharply, but otherwise 
manifesting a coolness and deliberateness of procedure that 
completely staggered me." 

"On October 23 [at Peninsula Harbor, Ont.], I found 
an adult female in a nest built of feathers and soft vegetable 
fibres, at the end of a tunnel under a clump of bearberry. 
The tunnel was about two feet long and terminated a foot or 
more beneath the surface in a chamber about the size of a 
cocoanut. This chamber was completely filled by the nest, 
which contained, in addition to its occupant, a small store of 
seeds of various weeds and wild fruits." (Miller, p. 31). 

Edwin Hollis records^ that "a specimen taken at Touch- 
wood Hills, April 13, 1902, had barley in its cheek-pouches and 
was quite a quarter mile from the nearest barley field or 
granary, so evidently had a winter store." 

In August and September the little Chipmunk emulates 
its cousin in labouring for the rainy days to come. As late as 
September 26 at Fort Resolution I saw one carrying home 
great bulging pouchfuls of skunk-grass seeds. About the end 
of the month, it finally plugs its doorway against the cold, the 
wet and the Least Weasel, and curls up for its six months' sleep. 

* Zoologist, August 15, 1902, p. 297. 


Franklin Ground-squirrel, Spermophile or Citellus; 
Scrubgopher, Whistling Gopher, Gray-cheeked 
Spermophile, Gray Ground-squirrel or Bushy-tailed 

Citellus franklini (Sabine). 

(Citellus the Latin name of the Ziesel or SousHk of Russia, the type of the present 
genus; franklini, in honor of Sir John Franklin, commander of the Overland 
Expedition, 1819-1822, on which Dr. John Richardson discovered this species at 
Cumberland House. He sent the first specimen to Sir Joseph Sabine, vs^ho 
named it.) 

Arctomys franklinii Sabine, 1822, Trans. Linn. Soc, XIII, 

p- 587- 

Citellus franklini Elliot, 1905. Check List Mam. N. A. Field 
Mus. Pub. 105, Zool. ser.. Vol. VI, p. 105. 
Type Locality. — Near Cumberland House, Sask. 

French Can., la Citelle ou V E' cureuil de Franklin. 
Saute AU, Me-sed'-jee-dah-mo' (big squirrel). 
Yankton Sioux, Ho-tang. 

The genus Citellus (Oken, 1816) comprises squirrel-like 
animals that live on the ground, with tail more or less bushy 
and usually long, outer ear various, from almost none to large, 
well-developed cheek-pouches; 5 nearly equal toes on hind- 
foot; 4 fingers and a knob-like thumb in front. Teeth: 

_ I -I 2-2 , 2-s 

Inc. ; prem. ; mol. ^^-^ = 22 

i-i i-i ss 

In addition to the generic characters, the Franklin Ground- 
squirrel has the following: 
SIZE Length, 14 inches (355 mm.); tail, 4^ inches (114 mm.); 

hind-foot, 2 inches (51 mm.). 


~ « CO 

Z •= 

P 3 

S 2 

"^ "IT 

2 :^ 

Franklin Ground-squirrel 


All above yellowish brown, becoming dark slatey or bluish colour 
gray on the head, and paler on the sides, everywhere finely 
peppered with black, which on the rump faintly suggests bars. 
Eyelids, lips, and throat, edge of ear and all below, dull yellow- 
ish white. Tail, gray and peppered on both sides, bordered and 
tipped with white; at the end is a sub-terminal band of black; 
each hair is in about seven sections, which are alternately black 
and white. 

Female similar. 

When seen in its native surroundings this Ground- 
squirrel with its bushy tail looks much Uke an ordinary 

The species has not 
split up into any well- 
marked races. 


It is generally distrib- 
uted throughout the AUegha- 
nian region of Manitoba, but 
is rare on the east side of 
Lakes Manitoba and Win- 
nipegosis, and I found no 
trace of it in the thick forests 

Map i8 — Distribution of Franklin Ground-squirrel in 
Manitoba (provisional). 

of Riding and Duck Mountains. The map (No. i8) shows its 
distribution in the province as I saw it. Doubtless this will be 
greatly modified by further observations. For range see Map 19. 

It is essentially a ground animal, frequenting the edges of envi- 
thick, dry undergrowth near woodlands or along hedges. It is ment 
equally strange in dense forests and on open prairies. Its chief 
region with us is the poplar country from Pembina to Pelly. 

Kennicott says : ^ "I have known this Spermophile to take 
refuge in a hollow tree, crowding up the hole like a Gray 
Rabbit. Mr. F. C. Sherman, of Chicago, informs me that 

' Quad. 111., 1857, p. 80. 


Cilellus franklini (Sabine) and C. richardsoni (Sabine). 

Founded on Baileys maps in the Reports of the Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agriculture, and the Maps in Doc. 132, Senate 
"'°'' "tI!; crosslTurnear'Geo^'rSan'Barand in New Jersey are localities where the Franklin Ground-squ.rrel has been introduced. 


Franklin Ground-squirrel 375 

he twice saw one, when pursued, dimb five or six feet up the 
trelhs work and vines at the side of a house," but these are 
exceptional cases. 

The home-locahty of each individual is probably less than home- 
100 yards across. The only evidence I have, aside from prob- 
abilities, is the fact that one or two are often found inhabiting 
a little thicket of less than a quarter of an acre, and they can 
usually be found within a very few yards of the same place. 

In 1882, we, in Manitoba, reckoned this the rarest of the abun- 
Ground-squirrels; since then it has increased, especially about 
Pembina,Winnipeg,PortagelaPrairie,Brandon, Minnedosa,and 
Dauphin, while the Striped Ground-squirrel has decreased, 
so that now this is much the more numerous of the two. 

I should consider this species abundant if there were three 
pairs to every hundred yards square of scrub, and this is said 
to be under the probable population of the wooded borderland 
along the Red and Asslniboine Rivers. At a place in Kansas 
(Auburn), where it was *' very common," Professor L. L. Dyche, 
says:^ "On an average I think there could not have been less 
than one Squirrel for each rod of fence." 

In Illinois, says Kennicott,' *' it is usually found living socia- 
alone or in pairs, and I have never observed a number of bur- 
rows scattered over a small prairie knoll like the semi-villages of 
the Striped Spermophile. This is perhaps owing to their small 
numbers; for the species appears to be naturally gregarious, 
and, at times, large companies live together, burrowing within 
a few feet of each other, and several pairs even entering the 
same hole." 

In its spring appearance it is later even than the Striped spring 

1011 ^ i AT'>\-E"V-T 

species, and observers generally agree that it is about three 
weeks behind the Yellow Ground-squirrel. In Manitoba there- 
fore it may be looked for ordinarily about the first of May. 

• Pr. Grd. Sq., 1893, U. S. Dep. Agr., Bull. 4, p. 53. 
» Quad. 111., 1857, p. 79. 


376 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

VOICE Most of the Ground-squirrels are noted for the great 

variety of the sounds they produce, but this is the musician of 
the family. It utters the same calls as the others, but expresses 
them in a fine, clear whistle. Its ordinary note heard in the 
brushwood is in a high degree musical, resembling the voice 
of some of our fine bird-singers, and has won for the species 
the names of 'Whistling Gopher' and 'Musical Ground- 

Both sexes are supposed to make these sounds, but the 
point is not settled. 

DEN The den is made in a low, brushy bank; in style it is 

"usually deeper than that of the Striped Spermophile, but 
otherwise similar to it" (Kennicott*). Jillson says^ that "when 
not frightened into their holes they generally plug them up with 
dirt, but always leave them open when out." This habit has 
not been recorded by any other observer. 

Dr. C. E. McChesney, of Fort Sisseton, N. D., credits^ 
the species with nesting in a hollow tree. 

MATING The slight evidence at hand would set the mating season 

about the middle or third week of May, fully a month later 
than with the Yellow Ground-squirrel. 

Kennicott is of the opinion that the species pairs, but that 
the male early abandons the female and leads a solitary, roving 
life during the summer. Edwin Hollis says ^ of those that he 
saw at Touchwood Hills, Sask. : " Pairs of old ones and family 
seem to live together." 


BREED- At Carberry, June 15, 1892, I got a female that carried 

6 well-developed unborn young. A female in the New York 
Zoological Park produced 4 young on June 8, 1905. When 
I examined them on June 20, they were still blind, helpless, and 
nearly naked. Only the slightest beginning of hair was to be 

*Quad. 111., 1857, P- 8o- 

' Herrick's Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 168. 

* Mam. Ft. Sisseton, Dak., 1878, p. 216. 

' Collecting Small Mam. in N. W. T. Canada. Zoologist, August 15, 1902, p. 297. 

Franklin Ground-squirrel 377 

seen, but the colour that the coat was to be, was clearly shown 
in the tinting of the skin. One of them was 3! inches long, of 
which the tail was | of an inch, the others were similar. 

In number they vary from 4 to 7. They are suckled for 
five or six weeks, and about the first of August, when about a 
third grown, they begin to come out of the holes and forage for 

There is but one litter each season. 

This is the most active of the Ground-squirrels; even a speed 
terrier has little chance to catch it in its favourite under- 
growth. It seems to know this very well, and will voice its 
shrill defiance again and again at the dog in pursuit. 

I once put a Scrub Ground-squirrel into a cage with a men- 
Yellow Ground-squirrel that had been there for some time. 
At first it seemed afraid of its big cousin, but soon plucked up 
courage enough to attack and defeat him. It frequently 
uttered its loud musical whistle, while the Yellow one did 
nothing but chatter his teeth. 

The next day I ofi^ered this individual some water. It drinks 
drank greedily and noisily, but not copiously. Thus it dlff^ers 
from its two relatives in that it needs a supply of water. Per- 
haps this fact will be found important in its distribution. 

The flesh-eating propensities of the group to which it food 
belongs are well known, and the Gray Ground-squirrel ofiPers 
no exception to the family habit. It is less carnivorous than 
the Striped species, yet loses no chance to eat a meal of flesh. 
The one from which I made the drawing gnawed its way out of 
the cage one night and ate the head off^ a newly mounted 
prairie-chicken before escaping for good. 

"One observed by Dr. Hoy did not eat Mice, though it 
killed them when placed in its cage. Its food is generally 
similar to that of the Striped Spermophile, stores being also 
found in its burrow. It gnaws hard substances more than the 

378 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Striped Spermophile, and while the latter will not gnaw out of 
a box, this readily does so. Caged specimens cut open hazel- 
nuts also." {Kennicott.^) 

Bailey says^ in his Ground-squirrel Report: "At Pem- 
bina, N. D., I found several young Mice [Peromyscus bairdi] 
in the stomach of one of these Spermophiles, and at Orton- 
ville, Minn., I shot one in the act of eating a freshly killed wood 
phoebe (Contopus virens). It had evidently just caught the 
bird, though it is difficult to understand how." Speaking of 
the omnivorous habit of the species. Prof. C. L. Herrick says:^" 
*' During the summer it feeds upon wild fruits, such as straw- 
berries, but has well-marked carnivorous propensities. During 
a few days' encampment on Lake Traverse several of these 
animals became so domestic as to partake freely of fish from 
our table so long as no suspiciously hasty motions were exe- 
cuted by the human participants." 

L. Bruner, of Lincoln, Neb., testifies" that in his 
State "it is carnivorous, at least when in captivity, as I can 
testify from experience with one I had caged during the greater 
part of one summer. After having been in a cage for about a 
month, I turned in a Mouse one day, in order to have a 'happy 
family' in my menagerie. Imagine my horror then to see Mr. 
Squirrel pounce upon the Mouse, kill and eat it in such a 
manner as to indicate that it was not the first Mouse thus eaten. 
The bones were held in the fore-feet and striped clean, after 
which they were dropped. The time occupied for the entire 
task of killing and eating the Mouse was not more than five 

Finally Herrick quotes Jillson as authority for the state- 
ment: "If a pair takes up its abode near small chickens and 
turkeys they soon thin them out."*^ 

In Manitoba, also, this charge has been made against the 
Scrub-gopher. Indeed, it seems to be the only one of our 
rodents that is an habitual depredator of the chicken-yard. 

« Quad. 111., 1857, p. 81. » U. S. Dep. Agr., 1893, Bull. 4, p. 56. 

•° Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 167. 

" Bailey's Prairie Ground-squirrels, 1893, Bull. 4, p. 52. 

" Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 168. 

Franklin Ground-squirrel 379 

In a very limited sense the species appears to be migratory, migra- 
Kennicott, whose opportunities for studying it were unusual, 
says'^ that in Illinois "this Spermophile exhibits a remarkable 
disposition to migrate from one field to another. Not only do 
the males lead a wandering life in summer, but pairs appear 
frequently to change their quarters, leaving their winter burrow 
to breed in another, and then, perhaps, hibernating in a third, 
at some distance from this. In several instances a company of 
a dozen or more have been observed to appear in a locality 
where none were seen the previous summer, and then to disap- 
pear after remaining there a year or only a few weeks. In the 
early part of summer 20 or 30 of these animals suddenly made 
their appearance, and burrowed in an old embankment, within 
three or four rods of my father's house. They seemed to have 
lost the shyness exhibited when leading a solitary life, and were 
not alarmed at the near approach of man. They even came 
about the kitchen door to pick up crumbs, and disputed with 
the chickens for their food. 

IjC ^ JJC -jC 3(C 3(C JfC 

"A war of extermination was commenced. Several were 
shot, while others were killed with clubs, whereupon the survivors 
left in a body, as suddenly as they had come, and were never 
seen again, nor could they be found upon any part of the farm.'* 

In Manitoba the principal enemy of the Gray Ground- enemies 
squirrel is the red-tailed hawk. On July 9, 1884, I saw two 
of these hawks fighting over some prize. While they were so 
busied I secured the booty, a fine specimen of this Ground- 
squirrel, and was glad to get it, as it was considered rare in the 
region at that time. 

Late in September the Scrub Ground-squirrel takes its fall 
last look at the sun, then barricades its doorway with earth 
against Weasels, wet and frost, and sleeps until a half year 
later, when the white crane comes again and trumpets a resur- 
rection to the under-world that slept as dead. 

" Quad. 111., 1857, pp. 79-80. 


Yellow Ground-squirrel, Yellow Gopher, Flickertail, 

Richardson Ground-squirrel, Citellus 

or Spermophile. 

Citellus richardsoni (Sabine). 

(L. Citellus, see ante; richardsoni, in honour of Sir John Richardson, who discovered 
the species at Carlton House in 1820.) 

Arctomys richardsonii Sabine, 1822, Trans. Linn. Soc, XIII, 

p. 589. 
Citellus richardsoni Elliot, 1 905, Check List Mam. N. A. 

Field Mus. Pub., 105, Zool. Sen, Vol. VI, p. iii. 
Type Locality. — Carlton House, Sask. 

French Canadian, la Citelle ou VEcureuil de Rich- 
Cree and Ojib. Me-sed'-jee-dah-mo' (big squirrel). 
Ogallala Sioux, Tash-nah-hay-ho'-tah. 

In addition to the generic characters set forth under the 
previous species the Yellow Ground-squirrel has the following: 

SIZE Length, about 12 inches (305 mm.); tail, 3I inches (89 

mm.); hind-foot, i| inches (44 mm.). 

wEFGHT The weight of a large male I found to be 13 ounces, the 

female is smaller and not so heavy. 

COLOUR A Carberry specimen, a male taken August 4, doubtless 

typical, is in general of a warm yellowish buff, deepening along 
the cheeks, shoulders, flanks, and thighs to a strong yellow. 
On the crown and back it is thickly peppered with brownish 
black, giving the efl^ect of a gray mantle. On the rump these 
markings faintly suggest cross pencilling. The tail above is 


< -^ tJ — 

B O 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 


brown, peppered like the back; below, clear pale sienna; fin- 
ished with a blackish edging, which again has a broad tipping 
of pale yellow. My specimens taken at Turtle Mountain late 
in April are much paler in general colour, nearly white below. 

The sexes are alike. 

When seen alive it is like a pale yellow Squirrel with a 
rather short tail, that it jerks and shakes upward every few 
seconds when watching an intruder. From this it gets its 
name, Flickertail. 

It has no recognized races. 


The Richardson Ground-squirrel is a characteristic in- range 
habitant of the Saskatche- 
wan Campestrian faunal 
area (Map 19). In Mani- 
toba it is found on all the 
true prairies of the second 
steppe, as shown on Map 
20; but it enters also the 
upper part of the Red River 
Valley proper, along the 
east slope of the Pembina 
Mountain. At Morden I 
found it abundant, also 
thence north-eastward as 
far as Myrtle. It extends 

in small numbers northward to Russell and the Gilbert Plains, 
on the west of Riding Mountain. 

Map 2c 

•Distribution of the Richardson Ground-squirrel 
in Manitoba. 

This is strictly a prairie animal. 

It is never seen in or envi- 
near the woods; its favourite localities are high rolling lands ment 
of stiff or gravelly clay, but prairie ridges of any kind are ac- 
ceptable locations. It is as fond of cultivated fields as its 
striped relative is of the virgin prairie. Its burrows are so deep 
that the plough does them no harm but what it can repair in 


382 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

a few minutes, and the growing crop at the door afifords bounti- 
ful forage; thus it fits in very comfortably with agricultural 
surroundings, and has greatly increased with the spread of 

In the Souris country, where there is abundance of wheat on 
rolling clay lands, it finds an ideal home, and is very plentiful. 

ABUN-^ This is by far the most abundant of the Ground-squirrels. 

At Whitewater on April 29, 1904, I examined an interesting 
colony of the species. In its centre of population I marked off 
a space 10 yards by 20, then counted the burrows in it. 
There were 50. This, I should think, meant at least 25 adult 
Ground-squirrels in the space of less than one twenty-fourth of 
an acre. The colony straggled along for a mile or more, the 
population thinning out on the level fields to four or five holes 
per acre, and of course with none at all in the wet places. But 
taking all together, I calculated the Ground-squirrel population 
at not less than 10 per acre, or, say 5,000 to the square mile. 
That 10 per acre is not too high is shown in a case observed 
on the Saskatchewan by James M. Macoun. A farmer there 
killed 300 of these Ground-squirrels on his field of less than 10 
acres, and yet it made no obvious difference in their numbers. 

E. T. Judd tells ^ of a square mile in North Dakota on 
which 4,000 Ground-squirrels were killed in one season. 

In a two-acre field of wheat at Carberry, July 5, 1892, I 
counted 16 Ground-squirrels sitting up. I could not see those 
that were down on all-fours feeding, but it is safe to put them 
at double this number. There were at least 50 Ground- 
squirrels in that field, or 25 to the acre, and along the bank of 
Pollworth's slough, north of Carberry, in the early 8o's I have 
often seen as many as 50 Ground-squirrels within an acre and 
there captured 20 in one hour with two traps. Even halving the 
lowest of these figures, we should have a Ground-squirrel popu- 
lation of 20,000,000 on the prairies of Manitoba alone. 

That these estimates are not excessive is shown by the 
bounty records. At Carberry, in the year 1890, with bounties 

' Bailey's Rep. Prairie Ground-squirrels, U. S. Dep. Agr., 1893, Bull. No. 4, p. 65. 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 383 

at three cents per tail, $i,i8o was paid out. This represented 
40,000 Ground-squirrels killed in the municipality of North 
Cypress (about 400 square miles), and yet it made no obvious 
difference in their numbers. 

Coues has given us a bright pen-picture of this creature 
along the Boundary Line. "It is one of the most abundant 
animals of our country [he says^], occurring by hundreds of 
thousands over as many square miles of territory, almost to the 
exclusion of other forms of mammalian life. Millions of 
acres of ground are honeycombed with its burrows. * * * 
I never saw any animal — not even Buffalo — in such profusion. 
I have ridden for days and weeks where they were continuously 
as numerous as prairie-dogs are in their populous villages. 
Their numbers to the square mile are vastly greater than I ever 
ascertained those of S. beecheyi^ the pest of California, to be, 
under the most favourable conditions." 

Such facts and figures show also how hopeless it is for man 
to fight these armies by actual onslaught; there is not money 
enough in the country to carry on such a warfare with success. 
The wiser plan is to work with other forces, those of nature and 
of careful science, and the credit of finding the way belongs to the 
Biological Survey of the United States Department of Agricul- 
ture. The Ground-squirrel had increased rapidly in numbers 
with the cultivation of the country throughout its range until 
about 1894, when it became a serious burden to the farmers. 
Then was invented the scientific method of poisoning that has 
given us the upper hand once more and made it easy to deal 
with the problem. (See end of this chapter.) Since then the 
Ground-squirrel numbers have fallen below the danger point, 
though constant vigilance is still the price of good crops, as 
indeed it is of most good things. 

This species appears above ground very regularly each spring 
year about the middle of April without regard to the weather, ance 
Late snowstorms sometimes set in after its reappearance, and 
the Ground-squirrel becomes unenviably visible as it runs over 

^ Am. Nat., IX, 1875, pp. 148-154. Quoted in Bailey's Report. 

384 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the white, but this does not make it return to its winter sleep. 
On April 27, 1892, in Manitoba, an unprecedented snow storm 
occurred and covered the ground a foot deep. Next day the 
Ground-squirrels were seen in thousands running about. So 
far from becoming scarce under the trying weather, they seemed 
rather to have increased, at least they became unusually 

In the mild season of 1905, however, A. S. Barton writes 
me, these winter-sleepers came out during February in the 
country about Boissevain. 

Having broken their sleep, they need food, but the natural 
supplies have not yet begun to grow, and starvation might be 
their lot had they not been careful to lay up a store the year 
before, when there was abundance in the land. 

Thus April is the season for which chiefly they gathered 
the crop of the summer gone by, and the month is given over to 
love and feasting, without care for the food of to-morrow. 

A number of specimens examined at the end of the month 
(April 27 and 28) had their stomachs filled with the first appear- 
ing grass. 

HOMR The home-region of each individual is doubtless very small ; 

it probably never ventures a hundred yards from its own door. 


sociA- This is the most sociable of our three Ground-squirrels, 

as it commonly nests in straggling colonies, the members of 

which doubtless profit by each other's presence in learning of 

approaching danger, yet I never saw them indulge in any sort 

of game or social pursuit, or attempt to combine their efforts 

for a common cause. Nevertheless, as Coues says,^ "Their 

gregarious instinct is rarely in abeyance. A few thousand will 

occupy a tract as thickly as the prairie-dogs do, and then none 

but stragglers may be seen for a whole day's journey. 


" There is one very curious point in the socialism of these 
animals. Every now and then, in odd out-of-the-way places, 

^ Am. Nat., IX, 1875, pp. 148-154. 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 385 

where there may not be another Gopher, for miles perhaps, 
we come upon a soHtary individual guarding a well-used bur- 
row, all alone in his glory. The several such animals 1 have 
shot all proved to be males; and what is singular, these old 
fellows are always larger than the average (some would weigh 
twice as much), peculiarly sleek and light-coloured, and enor- 
mously fat. The earlier ones I got I suspected to be a differ- 
ent species, so peculiar were they in many respects. I suppose 
they are surly old bachelors who have foresworn society for a 
life of indolent ease, though if I had found them oftener among 
their kind I should have taken them for the Turks of the 

The species utters a husky alarm whistle as soon as it inter- 
scents danger, and the end of the tail is raised at each whistle; nica". 
thus we have directive sounds and marks combined. Old ^^°^ 
plainsmen say that a Prairie-dog's voice is tied to its tail, be- 
cause every time it lifts one it lifts the other, and when one 
stops the other does. This is equally true of the present 

It is not known whether this rodent pairs, is polygamous, matixg 
polyandrous, or promiscuous. The mating season is about 
the middle of April or before that. Francis Dickie writes me 
from Carberry that on April 21, 1905, he killed 11 Yellow- 
gophers; of these 6 were females, and 4 pregnant; the embryos 
very small except in one case, where they were each half an inch 

Three females taken April 29 showed embryos from the 
size of No. 4 shot (3-16 of an inch) to that of a bean (7-16 of an 


As the gestation of the rat is 21 days, and that of the rab- gesta- 
bit 30 days, it is likely that the Ground-squirrel's period is 
between the two; therefore the first of these embryos was in 
the second week of development and the last within ten days 
of birth. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 


At Whitewater on April 29, 1904, I examined the nest and 
burrow of a Yellow Ground-squirrel. This one was selected 
because I saw an old one run into it with a mouthful of grass. 
After four hours of hard work by myself and my assistant, E. 

iclbiock W. Darbey, we dug 

out and made care- 
ful measurement of 
the labyrinth, plans 
of which are given in 
Fig. 120. We did not 
see anything more of 
the owner, so doubt- 
less she escaped 
by some passage to 
another burrow, 
probably plugging 
the gallery behind 
her, as we missed it. 
This is the usual ex- 
perience in digging 
after a burrowing 
animal. The grass 
' she was carrying 
was found scattered 

Burrow of Richardson Ground-squirrel, Whitewater, alOUff the OUter Hal- 
Manitoba, April 29, 1904. (Plan). ^ ° 


The small room marked *'old den" had no connection 
with the burrow, so far as we could learn. It may have been an 
ancient chamber abandoned long ago, as it was full of hoar 
frost and had no sign of occupancy. Two or three of the galler- 
ies were too small for the Squirrel to have made and were prob- 
ably the work of Mice. I am inclined to think that at least one 
species of Mouse is a parasite or commensal of these Ground- 
squirrels, inhabiting the small off-shoot galleries. These they 
make from the tunnels of their host and, tapping the store rooms, 
steal the provisions laid up by the larger rodent. In this case we 
found a colony of Microtus drummondi not far from the burrow. 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 387 

The chamber was 9 by 9 inches by 6 inches high, the lining 
was of grass and oat hulls, about two inches thick, and reaching 
well up the walls. I examined it carefully and found no dung 
of owners or Mice, and no insects; it was thoroughly clean, 
but not dry or warm. I do not think it was in use this year. 

We found no nest in this. Evidently it was too early for 
the family. (See Fig. 120.) 

The burrow of the Yellow Ground-squirrel can always be 
distinguished from those of the other two by its size, having a 
calibre of about three inches, by the ever-increasing mound at 
the door, and by the fact that it rarely goes straight down, but 
is usually on a side bank and goes in at an angle; evidently, 
from the nature of the output, it reaches a considerable depth. 

The young are born about the middle of May. Prenatal young 
counting in eight cases showed the number to be 11, 7, 7, 7, 6, 
6, 6, 6. 

About the end of June the young are one-third grown and 
big enough to come out of the holes and make the acquaintance 
of the sunlight. They now look much like their parents, 
differing chiefly in being, smaller. 

At the entrance to each den from one to ten of the Squirrels 
may be noted any bright day in late summer, and the scene in 
the colony is of the liveliest description. Birds and beasts of 
prey make the place a regular forage ground, and the farm boys 
come with trap and snare to earn a little bounty money. The 
growth of the young is rapid, and by September they are not to 
be distinguished from the old ones in activity or appearance. 

But one litter is raised each year. 


When the thermometer is at 70 or 80 degrees the Ground- temper- 
squirrel is in its glory, but it has no liking for very hot weather. 
Whenever the temperature rises to or near the 90's the Ground- 
squirrel hides below. It is, moreover, strictly diurnal; I never 
saw one above ground before sunrise or after sunset. 

Although a winner in the ordinary struggle for existence, 
this animal has not the spirit of either of its cousins. Once I 

388 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

kept all three species together in a cage; the Yellow Ground- 
squirrel, although the largest, was bullied by both of its 
relatives. It chattered its teeth angrily at them for a time, but 
finally submitted. 

SPEED This creature is a poor runner. The farmer's boy can 

easily outrun it if he finds it far from its hole, and then it has 
to save its life by dodging — a hopeless shift, indeed, if the boy's 
usual four-footed colleague happens to be at hand. But it is 
rarely caught far from home. I doubt if it ever goes voluntarily 
fifty yards from a burrow. I have known individuals go over 
a hundred yards to a favourite food, but they do so under 
special provisions against surprise, as the following note illus- 
trates : 

Carberry, July 5, 1892. As the sun lowered it fast length- 
ened the shadows and brought into prominence the smallest 
depressions on the prairie; it revealed also on a long bank by 
the twenty-acre wheat field a perfect labyrinth of Ground-squirrel 
runs (p. 389) leading from all parts of the near prairie for 100 
yards or more into the grain. The runs had no common plan 
beyond convergence at the crop, but each main run appeared to 
have on it a sort of refuge burrow at every ten or fifteen yards. 
These refuges difi^ered from the residential burrows in being 
small, inconspicuous, half-hidden in the run, and without 
mounds. The Ground-squirrels would dodge from one to 
another, twinkling in out of sight at the slightest alarm. If 
two happened into the same burrow there was mischief brewed 
at once, and the weaker had to make a dash across country 
in search of some more hospitable retreat. 

In August they may be seen all day running down their 
holes with pouches full of grain and other supplies. Some- 
times these supplies are not food, but bedding. 

FOOD In food-habits it is much less carnivorous than the other 

two species, and yet is omnivorous. Primarily its diet is roots, 
leaves, and seeds of prairie plants. 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 389 

Bailey says in this connection : * *' Roots of plants are eaten 
and a great many seeds, especially those of pig-weeds {Chen- 
opodium album and boscianum) and wild sunflowers, which are 
abundant and form a considerable part of the diet. They also 
eat grasshoppers and many other insects." 

Dr. Coues tells of the manner in which these little apos- 
tates of an herbivorous race would crowd joyfully around the 

Fig. 121 — Runs of Richardson Ground-squirrel leading to a grain-field, Carberry, Man. 
An asylum burrow is seen every lo or 15 yards. The space shown is 30 yards each way. 

carcass of a fallen Buffalo, as near and often as they dared, in 
view of the many stronger creatures there assembled. 

But the coming of the plough put a new complexion on 
their lives. The farmer killed the Buffalo and the prairie 
herbage. Very properly, then, the farmer is a lawful prey, and 
this Ground-squirrel easily heads the list of the four-footed 
pests with which the agriculturist has to contend in Manitoba. 

In 1889 a law was passed providing a bounty of three cents 
to be paid for every Gopher tail delivered. The only tangible 
result was a depleted treasury. The Ground-squirrels con- 
tinued to exact their tribute of many bushels per acre. Bailey 

« Rep. Pr. Gr. Sq., 1893, p. 61. 

390 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

considers that the loss in ripe grain eaten, stored away, or de- 
stroyed in autumn is small compared with that which they cause 
by digging up the seed after it is sown in the spring, as each 
kernel taken then deducts many fold from the crop. 

But they are mischievous throughout the season. R. C. 
Cooper writes Bailey concerning the species in North Dakota: 
"It is present in great numbers and very destructive to small 
grain, doing most damage after the grain begins to head out 
and shade the ground fully; they then pull down the grain and 
cut off the upper part of the stalk for many rods around their 
holes, seemingly to let sunlight strike the ground; they do not 
hke damp places."^ 

STOR- It seems to be the habit of the species to carry food home 

^^^ in its cheek pouches for immediate consumption as well as for 
winter stores. On May 23, 1884, 1 captured a Ground-squirrel 
from a very righteous hawk that had caught him raiding a 
grain-field, and had lynched him on the spot. This was a very 
large specimen, a male; it weighed 13 ounces. Its cheek 
pouches contained 240 grains of wheat and nearly 1,000 grains 
of wild buckwheat, which is a noxious weed. Another, taken 
July 26, had in its cheek pouches 162 grains of oats. Bailey 
records one that had in its cheek pouches 269 grains of oats.^ 
The ripening crops in August afford the Ground-squirrel 
a chance that it never neglects. Load after load of the golden 
grain is garnered into its own bin, some six feet underground. 
In October the store is untouched and the owner sound asleep. 
I have but one personal observation in support of this. On 
October 27, 1884, I followed a Badger track in about two 
inches of snow that had fallen the night before. The Badger 
had come to a Ground-squirrel's hole and, guided no doubt 
by scent, dug straight down about six feet. The evidence 
showed that he had found and devoured the owners. Clearly 
they had omitted to plug the doorway and had paid the extreme 
penalty of their neglect, for there was the nicely made bed 
torn open. But also I saw there the storehouse containing about 

^ Loc. ciL, p. 64. * Loc. ciL, p. 6i. 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 391 

two quarts of wheat, all of it sprouted. Evidently the Badger was 
not interested in wheat, as it was lying in piles, and apparently 
there was as much in sight as the little bin would have held. 
The storehouses examined at Whitewater, April 9, 1904, 
were empty. 

So far as known this animal is independent of water. It never 
finds the moisture of its vegetable food sufficient. 

Every beast of prey from Bear to Weasel, all of the hawks enemies 
and some of the owls, prey on the Yellow Ground-squirrel, and 
its only recourse is a speedy retreat to Mother Earth, not by any 
means a bad one, as is shown by results. 

Professor John Macoun tells me that twenty miles south- 
west of Saskatoon, Sask., July 29, 1906, he saw one of these 
Ground-squirrels sitting up on its mound as a Long-tailed Weasel 
came loping over the prairie. The Squirrel dived below; the 
Weasel went after it, but came out almost at once; evidently 
the Squirrel had fooled him. 

But it has enemies that are even more dangerous. Five 
specimens collected May 2, 1884, were carefully examined. 
All were infested with wire-like worms in the stomach, aliment- 
ary canal, and scrotum. Nearly all spring specimens after 
this were found to be similarly infested. 

The cuterebra or warble, too, is said to prey on this 
species,though I have not seen a case. 

Since the appearance of the burrowing owl in Manitoba 
(about 1895) this Ground-squirrel has a new dependant; for 
its burrows are just such as are needed by the owl for nesting 
places, and unquestionably the baby Ground-squirrels are of 
just the right size, shape, and flavour to provide a delicious meal 
for the ungrateful bird. 

In trapping these dull-witted creatures but little subtlety trap- 
Is needed. If you walk gently toward a Ground-squirrel 
sitting at his front door, he gives a short, husky whistle about 
every ten seconds, jerks up his tail-end in time to his music, 
then takes the sub-soil plunge as you get nearer, going at thirty 

392 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

or forty feet if you rush at him, but waiting till you are within 
ten if you go slowly. Now the ready trap is set at the door in 
plain view; neither bait nor covering is needed. In a minute, 
if all be still, the Ground-squirrel reappears, popping his head 
out cautiously once or twice, then boldly leaping out when he 
sees you at a safe distance. If he chances to overleap the trap 
this time or step too lightly to spring it, a clod thrown at him 
sends him skurrying back in such heedless haste as is sure to 
land him in the disaster you had planned. 

When a snare is used it is set round the rim of the hole. 
The trapper now lies down some ten feet away, and jerks the 
noose as soon as the victim's head appears above the grass. If, 
however, it be near sunset when he goes down below, you need 
not expect to see him out again that day. 

I have many times driven a Ground-squirrel gently into 
his hole, then sat down to wait beside it. His short whistle is 
invariably heard within once or twice, then his nose reap- 
pears, only to drop back when he sees you. But he returns, 
and if you are still he gets bolder, popping back and forth, 
probably, and though you be but three feet from the mouth he 
will dodge out and scuttle away to the next burrow. It looks 
like a piece of daredevil bravado, for in many cases there was 
reason to suppose he was owner of the hole he was leaving and 
was not driven forth by any inhospitable relative. It is 
often a help in bringing him out if you whistle softly. 

AUTUMN Toward mid September, as the days grow short and the 

mornings chilly, the Ground-squirrel comes out less often. By the 
end of the month, or at latest the middle of October, it says good- 
bye to the light upper world and sinks, like the flowers, into the 
slumber that is to last until spring. For half of each year, half 
of its life is spent in a sleep so deep that it is a temporary death. 

SER- The work that the various Ground-squirrels do for man 

VICES . . . . . 

TO MAN as tillers of the soil is not to be forgotten, but it is small when 
compared with that done by the Pocket-gopher, and is more 
than offset by their destruction to standing grain. 

Richardson Ground-squirrel 393 

The fur of this animal is used sometimes for cloak linings, 
but it is thin and poor. The leather has a possible applica- 
tion in the manufacture of *kid' gloves, but the skin is not 
usually considered of any commercial value. 

The safe and successful method of exterminating this pest how to 
of the farm is by poisoning with crude bisulphide of carbon, as mSate 
recommended by the United States Biological Survey (Prairie 
Ground-squirrel Report, 1893, p. 26). Two tablespoonfuls 
of this on a bunch of rags or waste should be thrust into the 
top or highest part of the burrow of the Ground-squirrel, and 
the hole closed up. It gives off a poisonous gas which is 
heavier than air. This follows down along the burrow and 
kills the occupants, who are thus dispatched and buried out 
of sight by a single operation. 

As this bisulphide is a poisonous, inflammable, and ex- 
plosive substance it should be handled with care. 


../ ,,^ 


striped Ground-squirrel, Striped-gopher, Thirteen- 

striped Spermophile or Citellus, Hood 

Spermophile or Leopard Spermophile. 

Citellus tridecemlineatus (Mitchill). 

(L. Citellus, see ante; L. tridecemlineatus, from tredecim, thirteen, lineatus, lines or stripes.) 

Sciurus tridecemlineatus MiTCHiLL, 1821, Med. Repos., N. S., 

VI (XXI), p. 248. 
Citellus tredecimlineatus Elliott, 1905, Check List Mam., 

N. A. Field Mus. Pub. 105, Zool. Series VI, p. 104. 
Type Locality. — Central Minnesota. 

French Canadian, la Citelle ou VE'cureuil a treize 

OjiB. AND Saut., Sha-sha'-ha Wa-ha-coosh' . 
Yankton Sioux, Tah-sen-a A-das-ka, 
Ogallala Sioux, Tash-nah-hay'-ah-lah. 

In addition to the generic characters given on page 372, 
the Striped Spermophile has the following: 

SIZE Length, about 11 inches (279 mm.); tail, 3I inches (89 

mm.); hind-foot, if inches (35 mm.); ears, very small and 
low. Female smaller. 

COLOUR AH above, dark or blackish brown (which varies greatly 

in depth), with 7 long stripes of dull yellowish white, between 
which are 6 more or less broken rows of spots, similar in colour 
to the stripes; the stripes are much broken up on crown and 
haunches; there are traces of chestnut on the flanks and in the 



Citellus tridecemlineatus (Mitchill). 

Founded on V'ernon Bailey's maps in the U. S. Biol. Survey, with other records by J. A. Allen, C. Hart Merriam, E. T. Seton, et al. 
I he boundaries between the races are approximate. 


396 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

dark stripes; all below dull buff, nearly white on the chin; the 
tail is yellowish brown or sienna, with a fringe of coarse 
hairs that are black but have yellowish white tips. April 
specimens from Winnipeg are very pale and brown. The 
female Is similar. 

When seen on the prairie, its stripes, general olive tone 
and short ears readily distinguish it even if it chance to be 
near the haunts of the Chipmunks. Its style of uniform is 
indeed unique; the only approach to It is seen in the Rio 
Grande Ground-squirrel, which has rows of white spots and is 
otherwise different. 

Seven races are recognized: 

tridecemlineatus Mitchlll, the typical form. 

pallidus Allen, smaller and paler. 

olivaceus Allen, like pallidus^ but darker. 

parvus Allen, very small. 

alleni Merrlam, smaller, darker and more olive than 

texensts Merrlam, like type, but smaller and redder. 
hadius Bangs, very large and red. 

Specimens from Turtle Mountain, Man., show an ap- 
proach to pallidus. 


RANGE The Striped Ground-squirrel is found on all the dry 

prairies of Manitoba, from Lytleton to Duck Mountain, from 
Pembina to Selkirk, and from Brokenhead to Fort Ellice, but 
it is less strictly a prairie species than its yellow congener, and 
is often seen in the partly wooded country. At Dauphin I 
was shown specimens taken there by H. C. Nead, and learned 
from many that the species abounds on Gilbert Plains and 
northward as far as Fork River. A few are to be found even 
farther, along the neighbouring Gravel Ridge east of Duck 

Striped Ground-squirrel 397 

Mountain. Sir John Richardson records^ that the species was 
"in considerable numbers" at Carleton House, but not found 
beyond north latitude 55°. 

The favourite surrounding of the Striped Ground-squirrel en- 

,. , ., . VIRON 

is dry virgin praine on a light soil. ment 

It is, or was, particularly abundant on the Big Plain xum- 
around Carberry, Man. By abundant is not mearrt its num- 
bers equalled those of the Yellow Ground-squirrel; of that I 
have seen 50 within an acre, but of the Striped species 50 in a 
1 0-mile drive would represent its greatest abundance in my 
experience. At Grinnell, Iowa, it is much more plentiful. 
J. H. Houghton counted 25 during a walk of a quarter of a 
mile;^ I never heard of a place in Manitoba where it attained 
such numbers. It is, however, more numerous than it seems, 
as its colour enables it to hide so easily, and I should estimate 
our present population of Striped-gophers at not less than 

It has greatly decreased during the last twenty years. In 
1882 one could see 30 or 40 a day without difficulty. One day 
in the spring of 1884 I caught 13, all males, in our half-acre 
garden. In 1892 it had become so rare that I seldom saw more 
than 2 or 3 in a half day's tramping, and reports from all regions 
under the plough, show that the Striped Ground-squirrel is 
disappearing. In my notes for June 7, 1892, I find this: 

The natives- say that the large Ground-squirrels kill the 
Striped species. I have seen no signs of actual encounter except 
in cages, where the small ones were usually victorious, but it is 
quite evident that the former are overrunning the country. 
The farmers complain greatly of their ravages. * * * 
I have no doubt that the chief enemy of the smaller species 
is the plough. This Squirrel's home is the virgin sod; its 
burrows are so superficial and small that they are destroyed at 
once by the plough, whereas the large and deep burrows of 
richardsoni are affected at the entrance only by the overturning 

' F. B. A., Vol. I, 1829, pp. 177-8. 

' Bailey's Rep. Pr. Gr. Sq., Bull. 4, U. S. Dep. Agr., 1893, P- 37- 


398 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

shear, and are easily cleared again by their owner. This is 
supported by the fact that wherever you find a tract of 
dry virgin prairie left, you are sure to find it populated still by 
the Striped species, while the Yellow alone is found in the 
ploughed fields. 

sociA- Speaking of its habits in Illinois, Kennicott says:^ "It 

is naturally gregarious, and though never observed living in 
such great companies as the Prairie-dog, twenty, or sometimes 
even fifty or a hundred, may be found within the area of an 
acre, two burrows being frequently within a few feet of each 
other, though one is never inhabited by more than a pair.'* 
This does not agree with my own observations. I should rather 
call it a solitary species, for I never saw one heeding another, 
except in the breeding season, and those I kept in captivity 
took no notice of each other except to fight. In one sense the 
species may be slightly gregarious, but I should say not at all 

SPRING The Striped Ground-squirrel is usually two weeks behind 

ADVENT , X7 1, . . • • • 1 

the Yellow one in its spring appearance; it is rarely seen in 
numbers until the end of April, but around Carberry begins to 
appear about April 20. 

In the backward season of 1904 it had not appeared in 
force when I went East on May i. Again, in the very early 
season of 1905 Francis Dickie wrote me from Carberry that the 
first Striped-gopher was noticed April i. At MacDonald, J.S. 
Charleson noted its first appearance on March 27. 

MATING The mating season sets in at once and the males may be 

seen chasing the females from burrow to burrow over the 
prairie. Kennicott says that in Illinois they pair, but the male 
deserts the female just before the young are born, and leads a 
solitary roving life all summer, "digging a temporary burrow 
or occupying a deserted one for a few days wherever he may 
take up his abode." * 

' Quad. 111., 1857, pp. 75-6. *Loc. cit., p. 76. 

Striped Ground-squirrel 


/5 feet 

Fig. 122 — Striped Spermophile's Playground, Manitoba, 1882. 

Burrow 2 or 3 inches below surface ; 8 entrances. The fact that all the 
entrances were open is important in contrast with the plugging of the 
doorways to the home clen. 

The burrows of the Striped Spermophile are distinguished dens. 
from those of the Yellow species by their smaller size (of barely 
two-inch calibre instead of three), also they are on the level 
ground. They usually go straight down for six or seven 
inches, sometimes much farther, and rarely have any earth 
mound visible at the door. Apparently the animal is at pains 
to hide the entrance, so 
gets rid of the earth- 
pile by scattering 
it. Bailey remarks: ^ 
"Though many of the 
burrows open on 
smooth, bare ground, 
with nothing to conceal 
them, the entrances are 
more commonly hidden 
by a bunch of grass, 

and sometimes a dried weed, a piece of paper, or an old rag 
is drawn over the entrance." 

They are of at least two kinds. 

First, a labyrinth of many galleries with many entrances. 
This is close under the sod, rarely more than three or four 
inches down. I take it to be a mere playground and refuge; 
doubtless, also, it serves to mislead such enemies as might be 
in search of the Ground-squirrel's nest. (Fig. 122). 

Second, the nesting burrow. This also is a labyrinth, but 
deeper than the first kind, and it has a large, comfortable 
chamber about nine inches in diameter, with many approaches, 
and more than one entrance. This chamber is about six inches 
down, and is lined with fine, dry grass. 

At Carberry, September 8, 1904, I dug out the Ground- 
squirrel nest from which I made the diagram shown in Fig. 
123. I did not see the rightful occupant, but suppose from its 
size and character that it was the work of a Striped-gopher. 
In one place, as marked, was found a salamander {Ambystoma 
tigrinum). It was not dormant but very sluggish. Several 

" Rep. Pr. Grd. Sq., 1893, p. Z2>. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 




times have I found this species thus utiUzing the burrows of 
the Ground-squirrels for its own winter den. These galleries 
were much plugged with soft earth and not easy to trace. 
Most were one and one-half to one and three-fourths inches 

wide, and about 
three inches down, 
but never more 
than six inches from 
the surface. 

I have also seen 
another burrow 
that is attributed to 
this species. It 
goes down nearly- 
straight for a dozen 
feet. It may pos- 
sibly be the winter 
den, but I never 
found the bottom 
or the animal that 
made it. The na- 
tives say it is a well, 
but I think they are 

In 1882 I pub- 
lished certain draw- 
ings of the prairie 
in section. They 
were the four faces 
of one square hole. 
The extent to which 
the burrowing ro- 
dents had recently interfered 'with the surface deposits was 
very plain, but later studies showed that most of these results 
were traceable to the Pocket-gopher (Tho?nomys), so that, 
although the present species is an important secondary worker, 
the subject is treated in the chapter devoted to Thomomys. 


about ;x.feet 


Fig. 123 — Burrow of Striped Ground-squirrel. 
Drawn by E. T. Seton, Carberry, Manitoba. Sept. 8, 1904. 

Striped Ground-squirrel 401 

On May 21, 1884, I dissected 3 female Striped-gophers young 
that had been shot in the garden, and found in each 9 well- 
developed young, evidently within a few days of birth. On 
May 24 I saw several of this species carrying bedding into their 
dens. On May 26 I opened 2 more and found 7 and 8 young. 
Other observers have noted young up to 14; thus they range 
from 7 to 14 in number, 9 being about the average. 

It is a remarkable fact that among the rodents, at least, 
prenatal counting shows more young than actual observation 
of the litter in the nest. Does this mean the death of one or 
two at each birth ? 

Evidently they are born about June i. I found this 
note in my Carberry Journal for May 27, 1884: ''The Striped- 
gopher in the cage brought forth her young yesterday or the 
day before, but she has utterly neglected them (they are since 
dead). They are perfectly naked, blind, helpless, and ap- 
parently toothless. There is not even an opening for the ears. 
Their skin is bright pink, and shows no signs of hair or of the 
mature markings. The total length of one is 2^ inches; of 
this the tail is f of an inch. The sex is pronounced and the 
whiskers show. 

" Dr. Hoy, who observed them in confinement, says that 
they have no hair on the body before they are twenty days old, 
and that the eyes do not open till the thirtieth day. They con- 
tinue to require the nourishment and care of the mother for 
a much longer period than most rodents." (Kenmcott.y 

A nest found near Carberry in June was of fine grass a 
couple of inches below the sod, and contained 8 young Gophers, 
half grown but showing all mature markings. 

About the first week in July they are big enough to come 
out of the den; they are half grown in the middle of the month, 
but do not yet go far from home and mother. They are fully 
grown by September, and before the winter comes the family 
feeling is entirely gone. Probably the young do not even 
winter together. 

Only one brood is raised each season. 
•Quad. III., 1857, pp. 75-6. 

402 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

VOICE This Ground-squirrel has a much greater variety of 

whistles and bird-like chirps than the Yellow species, though 
it is inferior vocally to the Scrub-gopher. Its short, sharp 
whistle of alarm, and Its prolonged quavering defiance, uttered 
from the safe underworld, are well known to every farm boy 
who snares Ground-squirrels for pocket money. When held 
by a trap it bites its adversary savagely, and utters a sort of 
angry snarling. 

"During the breeding season these Spermophiles are quiet 
and shy, but In June and July, when the half-grown young 
begin to make their appearance above ground, their voices are 
most frequently heard. The parent and her young at this 
time are constantly calling back and forth." {V. Bailey. y 

CLIMB- I was greatly surprised to find that this creature could 

readily climb a low bushy tree, and twice saw one do it as 
noted In the food paragraphs, page 405. 

SPEED Its speed Is about the same as that of the Yellow Ground- 

squirrel, but mentally it is decidedly superior. 

MEN- If you find a Striped-gopher sitting by its burrow and 

walk straight toward It, It waits until you are within perhaps 
ten feet, then dives with a little defiant " chirrup " into its under- 
ground safety. If you walk so far as to pass within eight or 
ten feet and do not look at it, it seems to watch your eye and 
remains perfectly still while you pass. If you step or turn 
toward it, It dives at once. The Yellow Ground-squirrel, on 
the other hand, no matter how approached, always runs into 
its hole with nervous haste, as soon as it sees a foe anywhere 

When I kept the two species together In a cage, the Striped 
one bullied Its larger brother mercilessly, and lost no oppor- 
tunity of impressing it with the superiority of mind over matter. 

If a Striped Ground-squirrel on the prairie be followed, 
not too fast, it will play with the observer, leading him 

' Rep. Pr. Grd. Sq., 1893, p. 33. 

Striped Ground-squirrel 403 

about in various directions, without seeking a hole. I re- 
member once (July i6, 1892) following one for a hundred 
yards or more in a very crooked course, then, so far from 
hieing earthward at last, it took to a field of standing wheat 
and eluded me in that, giving the usual chuckle of defiance as 
it disappeared. 

If, however, it be hotly pursued, it makes for its earth- 
works shelter. The faint signs of runways that we see in the 
grass are no doubt very big, plain fingerboards to it — the Gopher 
who runs may read them. Its course, though erratic to us, is 
always directed accurately by these road blazes to a haven, and 
when at length it stops and looks at the pursuer he may be sure 
that it is now at the door of its den, and on a nearer approach 
will dive with the usual twitter of derision. 

But possessed of an uncontrollable curiosity it is sure to 
peep out again if all be still, and it is easily taken then in a 
noose laid over the hole where it first disappeared. 

This animal has a habit of sitting bolt upright on a mound; habit 
it makes itself as tall as possible to look around; its paws are 
pressed in close to its breast, and at a distance it looks like a 
picket-pin or a stake driven into the ground. At such times 
the uninitiated often take the Squirrel for a surveyor's land- 
mark until a nearer approach causes the supposed stake to 
dive into the mound. 


It is strictly diurnal, and so partial to warmth that it is diur- 
not often seen above ground before the sun is in full force — that 
is, nine or ten in the morning — and long before sunset it retires 
for the night. On dull or cloudy days it is scarcely seen at all. 
Those that I kept in cages were put into a stupor by a tempera- 
ture several degrees above freezing point, which however, did 
not affect the Yellow Ground-squirrel in the least. The latter 
may often be seen running web-footed and chill-footed over 
the snow-drifts in spring time, but I never knew the Striped one 
guilty of such indiscretion. 

The present species rises from its winter's sleep nearly 

404 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

two weeks later than the Yellow Gopher, and retires in au- 
tumn about as much earlier, thereby losing a good month of 
active life. 

TENA- Although very sensitive to cold the Striped-gophers are 

OF LIFE very tenacious of life, and it frequently happens that individuals 

trapped, crushed, or mangled and thrown aside for dead, have 

revived and escaped. 

FOOD Belonging to an order of herbivores, we expect to find this 

animal eating all things that grow above and below the ground — 
grass, herbage, seeds, berries, roots, and grain; but the creature 
is quite omnivorous and habitually includes all garbage as well 
as herbage in its diet. I have known it to eat greasy house- 
scraps at which a Rabbit would have wabbled its nose in holy 
horror, as well as offal, insects, feathers, raw meat, small birds, 
mice, and its fallen comrades. 

The best available light on its food habits is found in 
Vernon Bailey's Report on the Ground-squirrels,* from which 
chiefly I compile the following records of its insect, bird, and 
reptile-eating propensities: 


INSECT "They feed especially upon such insects as grasshoppers, 

beetles, caterpillars, and ants." (V. B.) 

*' I have seen it catch and consume the cabbage butterfly 
repeatedly, and have also watched it digging for cut-worms." 
(J. N. Houghton, of Grinnell, Iowa.) 

At Ames, Iowa, Professor F. E. L. Beal "saw a Striped 
Spermophile with a large hairy caterpillar in its mouth." 

The results of the examination of 22 stomachs of this 
Spermophile, made at Ames, Iowa, are given by Prof. C. P. 
Gillette. "The animals from which the stomachs were taken 
were killed on various parts of the College farm, and at intervals 
from April 19 to August 2. As a result of this examination it 
was found that insects formed 46 per cent, of the stomach con- 
tents, with an average number of 13 cut-worms and web-worms 

» U. S. Dept. Agr, 1893, Bull. 4, pp. 38-45. 

Striped Ground-squirrel 405 

in each. 'The web-worms In these stomachs were, in the great 
majority of cases, the larvae of Crambus exsiccatus, which is 
very injurious to corn and grass in Iowa, its work in corn being 
very often mistaken for that of cut-worms.' In conclusion it 
is stated that 'the insects which the Squirrels feed on are 
almost exclusively injurious species, chief among which seem 
to be cut-worms, web-worms, and grasshoppers. As grass, 
clover, and other green stuff has been abundant wherever the 
Squirrels were taken, and as their stomachs were often gorged 
with insects that must have given them trouble to catch, it 
would seem that they prefer the latter food.' "^ 

The only available record of the Ground-squirrel eating 
reptiles is contributed by Bailey: "I once shot a Spermophile 
[he says***] as it was sitting up eating something that it held in 
its paws. On picking it up a partly devoured lizard {Eumeces 
fasciatus) was found, and several joints of the lizard's tail were 
in the Spermophile's cheek pouches." 

The step from reptile to bird is greater to the layman 
than it is to the naturalist or the Gopher. H. G. Smith, of 
Denver, writes:" "I have found the feathers of the shore- 
lark (Otocoris alpestris arenicola) about the entrance to the 
burrows on one or two occasions, but whether killed by the 
Squirrel or not I do not know. * ^i^ * The shore-lark 
evidently regards them as enemies, for I have often seen them 
try to drive the Spermophiles from the locality of their nests, 
and have found the eggs of the species, as well as those of the 
lark-bunting {C alamos piza melanocorys), destroyed, as I sup- 
pose, by this Spermophile." 

In the July of 1883 Miller Christy and I saw a Striped- 
gopher climb twice up a low, bushy spruce tree in pursuit 
of a vesper sparrow that was perched on top. Again in 
1887 Christy wrote me from Shoal Lake: "May 18, I saw 
a kingbird chasing a Gopher (Striped) along the ground for 
some yards till it got into its hole. The bird kept at the busi- 
ness for (I should think) half a minute." 

'Bull. Iowa Exp. Station, 1889, No. 6, p. 242. ^° Loc. cit., p. 39. 

" Loc. cit., p. 38. 

406 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This seems to show that the kingbird recognized in the 
Ground-squirrel an enemy — one who was a habitual destroyer 
of small birds and their eggs. 

AS Those that I kept in cages invariably preferred raw meat 

HUNTER to any vegetable food I could offer them. Professor F. E. L. 
Beal states ^^ "that at Ames, Story County, Iowa, he once saw 
one carrying a Field-mouse. 

In a letter dated Lincoln, Neb., June 19, 1888, Professor 
L. Bruner says:" "I saw a Gopher catch and kill a Field- 
mouse, which is something I have never seen them do before. 
I do not know what caused the Gopher to do so, for as soon as 
I approached it, it dropped the Mouse and ran into its hole. 
The Mouse was badly bitten." 

*' Dr. Hoy has shown that this animal feeds upon Mice and 
insects when in captivity, and he further informs me that he 
has examined burrows in which the numbers of the skins of 
Meadow-mice found sufficiently proved the appetite exhibited 
by his caged specimens, to be natural. Those observed in 
captivity killed and devoured Mice in the same manner as the 
Weasel, showing themselves to be adepts in this mode of pro- 
curing food. One would spring upon a Mouse savagely utter- 
ing a low snarl, and despatch it by biting its neck, after which 
the top of the skull was taken off, the brains licked out, and the 
blood sucked, the body not being devoured when there was an 
abundant supply." (Kennicott.y* 

Thus the long, slender weasel-like body of the species is 
not misfitting its character. This is, indeed, the Weasel of the 
Family, and we wonder how the small ground-birds could raise 
a brood at all in the early days, when this bloodthirsty little 
creature abounded on the plains and daily ransacked its home 
acre for the defenseless eggs or young of prairie birds. 


cANNi- Nor does this sanguinary little rodent balk at the climax 

of a carnivorous life. As I have seen many times in cages, 
and as is attested by nearly all observers, it does not hesitate on 

^* Loc. cit., p. 39. " Loc. «/., p. 37. '^Quad. III., 1S57, p. 78. 

Striped Ground-squirrel 407 

occasion to kill and eat wife or brother, mother or child, when 
other opportunity is lacking to glut its appetite for the living 
flesh and blood. Thus in spite of the strictly herbivorous teeth 
with which it is endowed it is a logical presentation of flesh- 
eating pushed to the unbridled conclusion. 

Vernon Bailey gives ^^ this summary of his studies on its 
food habits: 

"Eighty stomachs and eleven cheek pouches were col- 
lected and their contents carefully examined. Since the stom- 
achs were taken from specimens collected at various dates, 
ranging from May 19 to August 31, and over an extent of 
country including Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Wyo- 
ming, Kansas, and Texas, it may be reasonably inferred that 
the average summer diet of the species is represented. Follow- 
ing is a list of the food components found in the stomachs: 


Grasshoppers Oats 

Crickets Wheat 

Caterpillars (larvae of Pig-weed (Chenopodium) 

Lepidoptera) Bindweed seeds (Polygonum) 

Beetles Wild sunflower seeds {Helian- 
Ants thus) 

A small cocoon Night shade berries {Solarium) 

Insects' eggs Cactus fruit {Qpuntia) 

Spermophile hairs Roots 

Feathers of small birds Herbage" 

A surprising and delightful discretion is displayed by this stor- 
animal in its selection of food for storage. // never attempts to 
store food that will spoil. 

On this point Bailey writes:'" ''The following tables show 
that the contents of the cheek pouches differ widely from those 
of the stomachs, many things being eaten that are never stowed 
away in the pouches. For instance, more than half of the 

» Rep. Pr. Grd. Squirrels U. S. Dep. Agr., 1893, Bull. 4, p. 43- 
" Loc. cit., p. 45. 

408 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

stomach contents consisted of insects, while no insects were 
found in the cheek pouches, the latter invariably containing 
nothing but seeds. This is what might have been ex- 
pected, as the food laid up for winter is carried in the cheek 

Though storage is highly developed in the Ground-squirrel 
the reason for it is not quite clear. The capacious cheek 
pouches with which it is provided are in daily use all through 
the season. In illustration of this and of their size and the 
owner's tastes I quote from my Journal: 

"Carberry, Man., July 25, 1892. Collected a female 
Ground-squirrel that had in her cheek pouches 34 grains 
of wild oats {Stipa spartea)." 

Concerning the storage of food, Kennicott states :^^ "This 
is done in spring and summer, as well as in autumn. Consider- 
able stores of grain, seeds, roots, etc., are found thus collected 
in large side-chambers, excavated for their reception, in 
the burrow. Corn, wheat, and oats are stored up, when 
taken from the newly planted fields in the spring, with buck- 
wheat and winter wheat later in the season, as well as heads of 
grain taken from the edges of the field in harvest time. I have 
seen more than a quart of crab-apples taken from the burrow 
of one which had carried them several rods from a tree. 
George and Frank Kennicott inform me that they observed 
one, the burrow of which was near a lone burr-oak, on the 
prairie, to carry great quantities of acorns into his hole; and 
another was killed by them, the cheek pouches of which were 
crammed with the dry ovaries of a prairie plant, the seeds of 
which were exceedingly minute. From this it would appear 
that the Striped Spermophile at all seasons carries portable 
articles of food to its burrow to be eaten. He certainly takes 
no food from the time he first becomes torpid, in autumn, until 
he again becomes active." 

For what reason, then, does it store up all this food ? We 
are forced to believe that it is done, not for winter use, but for 
the times during its active six months, when food is too scarce 

" Quad. Ill, 1857, p. 77. 

Striped Ground-squirrrel 409 

or the weather too bad for it to forage successfully — that is, 
during the cold, wet spells in summer, unseasonable rains in 
autumn, and, above all, in early spring time. Confirmation of 
this is found in the following from my Carberry Journal of 
1882. "May 2, I ploughed up the storehouse of a Striped- 
gopher. It contained two pints of wheat and one of buck- 
wheat in separate piles." 

The species is, moreover, obliged to lay up more than it 
needs, to offset the pilferings of the parasitic Mice mentioned 

So far as known, however, it never drinks. As with many never 
small rodents, the moisture of the vegetable food is sufficient 
for its needs, so that the story of the well or burrow running down 
to water is a myth. I kept a number of the Ground-squirrels of 
both kinds in a cage all summer, but they never paid any at- 
tention to the water supplied them, so we ceased providing it. 
A very hot spell continued for a week, and it was suggested 
that the Ground-squirrels might now enjoy a drink. A saucer- 
ful was put in. Four would not touch it, two sniffed at it, 
wetting their whiskers slightly, then licked the whiskers dry, 
but could scarcely be said to have drunk. 

Like the preceding, this animal is the accepted prey of all exe- 
creatures, great and small, which prey. As Dr. Coues has " 
pointed out in good set zoological terms, the proper function of 
the whole order Rodentia is to turn grass into meat for the sus- 
tenance of their betters. I have taken Striped-gophers from 
each and all of the large Hawks which nest in our Province. 

Among the quadrupeds the Badger chiefly makes a special 
study of Ground-squirrel as diet. I have in many places seen 
the shelter burrows ripped open for twenty or thirty yards, 
showing where the Badger pursued the Squirrel by demolishing 
its rooftree, and usually there was some evidence to show that 
he had been successful. 

Cats kill a great many Gophers, but do not thrive on them; 
in fact, many hundreds of Cats have died from feeding on 


410 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Ground-squirrels. The reason apparently is that the Squirrel 
is infested by abdominal and intestinal worms, which are taken 
by way of the Cat's stomach into its system, and there work 
their havoc. 

PARA- These worms I have found in most Ground-squirrels, 

both Yellow and Striped, in the spring and early summer. 
The Ixodes, or tick, that infests Rabbits, I have not yet found 
on these species, but confidently look for it. Another remark- 
able insect parasite is the Cuterebra, commonly 
called a *' hot or a warble." My attention was 
first directed to this in the August of 1882. 
On the 5th of that month I wrote as follows: 

Fig. 124 — The larva of,,yr-, i n ' ^ i i* i 

Cuterebra. secured " Got 3. male bttiped-gopher, apparently m good 
berry, i\ian. ' hcalth, but the scrotum was entirely occupied 

(Natural size.) -^ •' '■ 

by a large grub about one inch long and half 
an inch wide. It resembled a butterfly cocoon. The head pro- 
jected outward toward the animal's rear. The testicles were 
either undeveloped or consumed, as there was no sign of them. 
The grub, when cut out, progressed over a board about as fast 
as an earthworm would, point first, /. e., the end that was in- 
wards. It was of a light olive, thickly sprinkled with fine 
black spots. I am told that the Ground-squirrels have been 
found with their hindquarters paralyzed by one of these 
grubs." Dr. A. S. Packard says'^ of this: 

**The larvae (of Cuterebra) live in subcutaneous bots 
beneath the skin of various animals. One species (the C, 
emasculator of Fitch) lives in the scrotum of the Squirrel, which 
it is known to emasculate. Mr. S. S. Rathvon has reared 
C. huccata Fabr. from the body of a Striped Squirrel, the 
larvae having emerged from the region of the kidneys. Other 
species live in the Opossum and diff^erent species of Field- 

A Honduras species that attacks man is thus described by 
Dr. T. L. Leconte. They are "usually found beneath the skin 
of the shoulders, breasts, arms, buttocks, and thighs, and were 

'* Guide, Study of Insects, p. 405. 

Striped Ground-squirrel 411 

suspected to have been introduced when the persons were 
bathing." Apparently these parasites caused no pain either 
at the time of laying or during development. 

Say records'" a case wherein the original sting of the egg- 
laying was irritating and the larva caused a painful tumor as 
it developed under the man's skin. Apparently it was five or 
six weeks in growing, and caused acute pain when it moved, 
probably because it was touching a nerve. The victim killed 
the parasite with a poultice of rum and tobacco ashes — two 
poisons of recognized and frightful virulence — then removed 
it with the forceps. After this he quickly recovered. 

This fly is very active in its attacks on the Ground-squirrel 
during late summer. In 1884 I made a careful investigation 
of its ravages. The following are the items from my Journal 
at Carberry: 

July 26, 1884. Found a young Squirrel of the year with 
the larva of a cuterebra in the skin of its cheek; it had ex- 
panded so as to fill the cheek pouch. This was the earliest 

August 3. Caught 5 Striped-gophers to-day, of these 2 
had had the "warbles," but they were gone, and the places 
nearly healed; i, a female, was carrying a larva under the 
skin, between her hind le^s, of all uncomfortable places. 

August 5. Collected i male; it had i larva. 

August 6. Collected 3 Striped-gophers, all had a larva, 
although 2 were females. 

August 8. Out of the 5 Striped-gophers taken to-day, 4 
had the parasites, and 2 of these were females. 

August 12. Of 2 specimens, i only had larva, and it had 
2, I in each hind-leg. 

August 14. Of 3 specimens taken, 2 had larvae, i of 
these was a female. 

August 18. Captured a large male Striped-gopher; it 
had I larva, this in its scrotum. It was fully developed and 
soon it crawled out of its cradle to be promptly devoured by 
its recent host, amid the applause of the spectators. 

"Zoc. cit. 

412 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

August 20. Fired at a Marsh Hawk that was carrying a 
Striped-gopher. This was dropped; it proved a male. In 
its scrotum was i fully developed larva, which presently 
crawled out and escaped. 

August 25. Out of 4 specimens collected to-day but i 
had a larva. This host was a female. 

August 30. Out of 2 specimens to-day i had had a larva, 
now escaped; the host was a female. 

September 4. Collected i female Striped-gopher. She 
had 2 larvae still in her belly skin. 

September 11. Collected 2 males, the last of the season — 
neither had any larvae. The season is doubtless over for 
parasites as well as for host. 

This record shows that the cuterebra infests males and 
females indiscriminately, but it generally, though not always, 
attacks the lower abdominal region, and is frequently housed 
in the scrotum of the male. But does it emasculate the host .? 
It is usually credited with doing so. In my 1882 account of 
this parasite I stated so, because the scrotum seemed quite 
empty after the grub was removed. In view of the fact that 
the testicles are reduced almost to nothing after the breeding 
season, possibly withdrawn into the body, I do not at present 
consider it proven that the cuterebra really emasculates the 
Striped-gopher or its larger cousin. 

Among the parasites of the Striped-gopher we must 
reckon the Mice, which pilfer from its stores. I have no good 
observation on this, but in the case of the Yellow Ground- 
squirrel I think that the robber Mouse is Microtus drummondi. 

LAST During August and early September the Striped-gophers 

EARTH maybe seen running into their holes with full loads of bedding 
and provender. There is some reason for believing that the 
wandering father returns in time to do his share of these prepa- 
rations. Kennicott takes this view, and refers ^^ to the "winter 
burrow, in which the pair hibernate and the female brings 

^-Quad. Ill, 1857, p. 76. 


Striped Ground-squirrel 413 

forth her young." During cold days now they do not show 
themselves at all. About the middle of September they bid 
good-by to the sunlight, plug up the doorway, and curl up for 
their seven months' sleep below the line of the frost. 

"Whether they remain dormant all of the six or seven 
months which are spent underground is difficult to determine 
[says Bailey-*], but it seems probable that they do not. Large 
stores of grain and nuts are carried into the holes in autumn 
and stored close to their nests. Whether these are eaten dur- 
ing the winter or saved for use in the spring, when grain and 
seeds are scarce, remains to be ascertained." 

The only investigation of the hibernation of this Sper- hiber- 
mophile, so far as I know, is by the late Dr. P. R. Hoy, of 
Racine, Wis. 

He states:" "The following are the results of many ob- 
servations and experiments on the Striped-gopher {Spermo- 
philus tridecemlineatus) during active life as well as when under 
the profound stupor of hibernation. During activity the 
Gopher's pulse is 200, respiration 50, temperature 105. 

"On the 2d of October, having procured a Red- 
squirrel (Sciurus hudsonicus) and a Gopher, animals of nearly 
equal size, the one active during the coldest weather, while the 
other is a characteristic hibernator, I cut out a part of the gluteal 
muscles of each, and after dividing and bruising, so as thor- 
oughly to break up every part, I took fifty grains of each and 
placed in a test tube, into which I put two ounces of cold water. 
After freely agitating, the mixture was left to digest for eight 
hours, at the expiration of which time I carefully decanted and 
renewed the water, agitated and left twelve hours, then filtered 
and rolled the residuum on blotting paper in order to remove 
all excess of moisture. When weighed they stood: Gopher, 
50-15; Squirrel, 50-10. These experiments were repeated with 
substantially the same results. Gluteal muscles of the Squirrel 
contained 20 per cent, of albumen, soluble in cold water, while 

=' Rep. Pr. Grd.-Sq, 1893, PP- 34-5- 

'^ Proc. Am. Ass. Adv. Sci., August, 1875, pp. 148-9, quoted in Bailey's Rep., pp. 35-6. 

414 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the same muscles of the Striped-gopher treated in Hke manner, 
at the same time, yielded 30 per cent. 

''As it is well known that the flesh of reptiles is rich in 
albumen, I procured several marsh frogs and subjected the 
gluteal muscles to like analysis, which resulted in 40 per cent, 
of loss. The following will convey to the eye these results: 

Per cent, of soluble albumen: Frog, 40; Gopher, 30; 
Squirrel, 20. 

"On the 15th of December, the Gopher being thoroughly 
torpid, temperature of the room 45, Gopher rolled up like a 
ball, no visible evidence of life, I opened the abdomen and in- 
serted the bulb of a thermometer, which indicated 58 degrees. 
I next turned back the sternum in such a manner as to expose 
the heart and lungs. The remarkable congested condition of 
these organs first attracted my attention. In fact, it would ap- 
pear as if the blood had all collected within the thorax. The 
pulsation of the heart was reduced to four each minute, the 
auricles would slowly and imperfectly contract, followed im- 
mediately by the ventricles. These slow pulsations of the 
heart occupied four seconds. There was no visible respiration, 
the lungs remaining almost entirely passive. The heart con- 
tinued to pulsate without perceptible change for fifteen minutes, 
and then when raised from its position it continued to pulsate 
for some time, being almost reptilian in this respect. During 
hibernation the circulation is so feeble that when a limb is 
amputated but a few drops of blood will slowly ooze from the 
fresh wound. The stomach and bowels empty, and the body 
was enclosed in a thick adipose layer. I was not able to excite 
the least motion or contraction of the muscles in any way, even 
by pinching or cutting nerves, showing the most perfect condi- 
tion of anaesthesia possible. 

"During hibernation the Gopher is not able to endure 
more than 6 degrees or 8 degrees of frost. The manifestations 
of life are so feebly performed that a few degrees below freezing 
is sufficient to convert apparent death into reality. On the loth 
of April, at which time the first Gopher appears above ground, 
I repeated the experiment of the previous autumn. Body 

Striped Ground-squirrel 415 

emaciated, hair dry and lifeless, flesh perceptibly less moist 
than it was in the fall. On subjecting the gluteal muscles to 
like treatment as in October I was surprised to find only i8 
per cent, of loss instead of the 30, as exhibited in the previous 

"The large amount of soluble albumen found in the flesh 
of the Striped-gopher in the fall, and the lesser amount found 
after its protracted hibernation, go far to prove that albumen 
somehow fits the animal for its long sleep. Is it not probable 
that albumen is a stored-up magazine of elaborated nutrition, 
to be used when no food can be assimilated by the digestive 
organ .?" 

Although the farmers generally wage war on the Ground- rela- 
squirrels as enemies to the crops, the case is not so clear as they to aian 
seem to think. There is so much to be said on the other side 
that it is usually nearly a balance. Kennicott, after long study 
of the matter, wrote :'^ "There can be no doubt that Meadow- 
mice and insects are, largely eaten by these animals whenever 
they can be obtained; and the high probability is that their 
good offices in the destruction of these, far more than counter- 
balances their occasional injury to the corn-fields. I doubt 
their being so very injurious in long-cultivated farms." 

From all accounts Indian corn is the cereal to which it is 
most destructive. In Manitoba it does no harm to this crop for 
most excellent reasons; it certainly works mischief in gardens, 
but it is often blamed for the doings of its two larger relatives. 
On the other hand, as shown, it destroys enormous numbers of 
noxious seeds, insects, and mice, and it would be well if the 
bounty law against it were repealed. Such laws are now 
generally discredited in America, and its numbers in our 
country are too small to constitute a danger even if it were as 
much a grain-eater as some would have us believe. 

^ Quad 111., 1857, p. 78. 


The Canada Woodchuck or Wood-shock, Ground- 
hog, Thickwood Badger or Canada Marmot. 

Marmota monax canadensis (Erxleben). 

(Marmota, the Ital. name is Marmotta, from L. mur. (stem of mus, a mouse or rat) 
and mont (stem of mons, a mountain), hence a 'mountain rat'; monax, a monk, 
given because it is usually seen living a simple, secluded life, in a cell, fat, sleek, 
alone, and contented. L. canadensis, of Canada.) 

Mus monax LiNN, 1758, Syst. Nat., X ed. I, p. 60. 
Marmota monax Elliott, 1 905, Check list N. A. Mam., F. M., 
pub. 105, Zool. Ser. VI, p. 119. 

Type Locality. — Maryland. 

Glis canadensis Erx., 1777. Syst. reg. an. I, p. 363. 
Marmota monax canadensis Elliot, 1905, Check List N. A. 
Mam. Field Mus., pub. 105, Zool. Ser. VI, p. 120. 
Type Locality. — Hudson Bay. 

French Canadian, le Siffleur; la Marmotte du 

Cree, Wee-nusk'; also Wee' -nee Suk'-ah-tip (on 

OjiB. Saut. & Musk., Ah-kuk'-wah-djees. 
Chipewyan, Thel'-lee-cho (big Ground-squirrel). 
Yankton Sioux, Hoh-cush-a. 

Richardson derives 'Wood-shock' from the Cree ^Ot- 
choek/ sometimes written 'Wejack,' but applies the name to 
the 'Fisher.'^ 'Thickwood Badger' was given in the North- 
west to distinguish the animal from the true or prairie Badger. 
'Siffleur' or 'Whistler' is from its note; and it is. of course, 
a true 'Marmot.' 

'F. B. A., 1829, I, p. 53. 


Woodchuck 417 

The Genus Marmota (Frisch., 1775) comprises large 
rodents that have: form, stout; tail, short and bushy; ears, 
very short; thumb on front paws, a mere knob, with a nail, 
the other four fingers with claws; 5 well-developed toes on 
hind-feet; very small cheek pouches. 

I— I 2—2 ^— ^ 

Teeth: Inc. ; prem. ; mol. ^^ =22 

i-i i-i 1,-1, 

In addition to the generic characters the Canada Wood- 
chuck has: 

Total length, about 24 inches (610 mm.); tail, 5^ inches size 
(140 mm.); hind-foot, 3 inches (76 mm.). 

Weight of adult, 9 to 10 lbs. I have seen an adult 
female that weighed only 3 lbs. 

Above, yellowish brown, with pepper-and-salt effect made colour 
by the white tipping to the long blackish hairs; head, dark 
brown, becoming whitish on the cheeks and sides of muzzle; 
paws, nearly black; below generally, brown, but tinged strongly 
with orange, especially on the legs. Tail, blackish brown, with 
some white tipping to the long hairs. In Minnesota specimens, 
the black of the crown reaches far below the eyes; in New 
England specimens it does not. 

The near neighbours of monax may be thus distinguished 
from it: 

M. caligatus Eschscholtz, is a much larger and in general 
of whitish gray, with black feet and crown; the warm tints 
confined to the tail and rear. 

M. flaviventer Aud. and Bach., is much like motjax but yel- 
lower below; its whole face is blackish brown, becoming ab- 
ruptly white on chin and lips; its throat very dark chestnut, 
sharp against the white of the chin. 

M. dacota Merriam, is larger and of a general golden colour, 
with black crown and face and brown tail; its white chin re- 
calls fiaviventer. 

418 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The following races of monax are recognized : 

monax Linn. This, the typical form, is rather larger 
and much redder than canadensis. 

canadensis Erx., as herein described. 

ignavus Bangs, like canadensis, but darker, and 
with shorter, broader skull. 

Black freaks or melanisms are common among Wood- 
chucks. I have seen two from near Toronto, Ont., two from St. 
Johnsbury, Vt., one from St. Louis, Mo. I have also seen a 
single albino or white freak from St. Johnsbury, Vt. These 
Vermont specimens are in the Fairbanks' Museum. 



The map shows that most of Manitoba is within the range 
of the Canada Woodchuck; and yet it seems to be rare in most 

of the Province. 

D. Nicholson tells me 
that during twenty-five 
years' experience he has 
seen several about Mor- 
den, and had four brought 
to his taxidermist shop. 
Hine saw two that were 
taken near Winnipeg, but 
considers them very rare 
in that locality. About 
Ingolf I was told that 
Woodchucks were found, 
but were far from com- 
mon. G. H. Measham 
says that at Big Ridge, near Shoal Lake, they are occasionally 
taken, and at McGregor they are not uncommon. C. C. Helli- 
well heard of one killed on the Souris, north of Turtle Moun- 
tain, in 1900. 

Map 22- 

-Distribution of the Woodchuck in Manitoba, 
so far as ascertained. 


his map is founded chiefly on the published chart of the U. S. Biological Survey (Doc. 132, Senate, 1907) and on the records by 
Karlane, J. Fannin. E. W. Nelson, W. H. Osgood, E. A. Preble, C. Hart Merriam, J. A. Allen, D. G. Elliot, S. N. Rhoads, 


R. MacK: ^ . „ 

O. Bangs, Audubon and Bachman, C. H. Townsend, E. T. Seton, ct a!. 

It must be considered diagrammatic and provisional. Ail the North American species and races are entered. 

Marmola monax (Linn.), with 3 races, 
Marmola caligatus (Esch.), 

Marmola ofumpus (Merriam\ 
Marmota flaviccnler ( Aud. & Bach), with 2 races. 


Marmola dacota (Meiriam), 

420 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

There is in Calder's collection a Woodchuck that came 
from Brandon Hills. Darbey writes me that he has never 
known the species near Winnipeg, but has seen two skins that 
were taken on Riding Mountain, and in 1890 he killed a large 
Woodchuck near Fort Elice. At Carberry I secured a speci- 
men in the spruce woods, June, 1884, and I knew of two others 
that were killed at the same place. H. C. Nead, the taxider- 
mist at Dauphin, tells me that it is found in that region, but is 
rare. J. J. G. Rosser considers it not uncommon about 
Winnipegosis and quite plentiful in Duck and Porcupine 
Mountains, especially about Pelly. 

ENVIRON- This is a forest animal, but prefers the edges of sunny 
openings rather than the gloomy depths, and at all times 
is found in high, dry situations. Wooded clay banks 
and gravelly ridges are much to its taste, and its dis- 
tribution in Manitoba will be found dependent on their 

popuLA- During my early days in Ontario, Woodchucks were con- 

sidered common, but I do not think that there were 20 on our 
hundred-acre farm. 

Walter L. Hahn states^ that in Porter County, Indiana 
(400 square miles), where Woodchucks are very abundant, 
about 1,400 had been killed each year for the five years ending 
1905, without appreciably reducing their numbers. 

In Lewis Co., N. Y., ^^ were captured in one large meadow 
during a single season by Drs. Merriam and Bagg.^ In Mani- 
toba I doubt if the entire Woodchuck population is more than 
a few thousands. 

INDIVID- The home -range of the individual is very limited in one 

RANGE sense. The tracks and the destruction around the doorway 

of a Woodchuck's den show clearly that ordinarily it does not 

go more than 100 yards from home. But a time comes when 

it needs a change, and it sets out to seek its fortune elsewhere, 

' Mam. Kankakee Valley, Proc. U. S. N. M., 1907, p. 458. 
' Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 249. 

Woodchuck 421 

going perhaps a mile or more, before it finds a location that suits 
its taste and is without an occupant of its own tribe. 

This is the only migration known among the Woodchucks; migra- 
it may occur at any time of the day or night, or at any season 
except in winter. 

In the grounds about my house the species is well repre- 
sented, but I never see a Woodchuck two years in suc- 
cession at the same hole. A new den each year seems to be 
their plan of life — an annual, doubtless a spring, moving. 

As will be seen, the existence of the Woodchuck depends burrow 
on its den or burrow. This is either in the woods or on the ' 
rolling pastures, but by preference on the border land between. 
Two principal types are described^ by Merriam ; "the first 
slopes at a moderate angle from the surface, and has a mound 
of dirt near its entrance; the other is more or less vertical for 
several feet * * * immediately below the surface, and no 
loose earth can be found in its neighbourhood." 

These two I have often examined. The difference is that, 
that with the earth pile was dug from the surface down ; that with- 
out earth pile was dug from another burrow up to the surface. 

The best descriptions of Woodchuck burrows that I 
know of are by W. H. Fisher, of Cincinnati, Ohio. My own 
observations, as far as they go, corroborate those of Fisher; 
therefore I shall give a digest of his admirable paper. ^ 

In all, he investigated 9 burrows between September 20 
and October 10, though not all in the same year. One of the 
simplest styles is shown in Excavation I (Fig. 125), the most 
complex in H. He does not say whether these were the work 
of families or of solitary males, of recent make or old. 

The longest was H; it gave a total length, including all 
galleries, of 47 feet, ii| inches. The shortest was I; its total 
length was 6 feet, 8| inches. The deepest point reached by any 

* Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 246. 

'Investigations of the Burrows of the American Marmot (Arclomys tnonax), by 
WiUiam Hubbell Fisher, Cincinnati, Ohio, U. S. A. From the journal of the Cincinnati 
Society of Natural History, July-October, 1893. Vol. XVI, pp. 105-123. Plates VI 
to X. 


JSxca(/aiio/i "M" 

_,. Sc-ale of Jtilsn 

i;j /'s /^o scale, of 

JV-. ,-^ , seciion GS ^io3 

,^^4-'' JIIx Q-Civ ai to7t s Of f"^y^ 



\j*\ C-inc-tn-dvCbit 


JExcctvoction J 

3ejoy6. 2o - /A?^. 






. ^^X 

' /' 





n t 



x.:.-^ PLAN ^ 

^ulfmlTto'h'heti IT-isAer . ^ ^ „ ^ 
/ (t-inan nat-c OHo.n 
".""'rcT.'>'J|l""iiii)\Hll."f"-"'"'- -"'*"""*•""""--'" •""■■■■"iin" iii.,....»ii/i.,...- ^ 

Fig. 125 — Plans of Woodchuck burrows. 

Reproduced from W. H. Fisher's paper in Journal of Cincinnati Society of Natural History 
1893. H was the most complex, I the simplest one found. 


Woodchuck 423 

was 49 Inches down. The burrows at the entrance were usually 
about I foot by 6 inches, but sometimes much larger; in one case 
very near to 24 inches one way. But always they are speedily 
narrowed to a diameter of 6 or 7 by 4 or 5 inches. Most had two, 
some three, entrances ; a few had but one. Most had indications 
of at least one earth pile at the doors. A few had no earth pile, 
though there were signs of its former existence in the increased 
vegetation. One only had earth piles at all doorways, of which, 
however, it had but two. Some had a doorway concealed under 
some shrubs and in bushes; in each case this seemed to be the 
original door by way of which all the earth was carried out. 

The largest pile was 4 feet 9 inches by 4 feet 1 1 inches by 
9 inches high. These mounds were evidently used as posts of 

I have long held the theory that many animals will plug 
their burrows behind them to elude pursuit; Hubbell's obser- 
vations on this point are conclusive. He thus relates his first 

"One afternoon, the farmer, while ploughing over a field, 
high and level, in which corn had been raised, and from which 
the plough-share threw up the nests of Jumping-mice, in- 
formed me that a Woodchuck had a few minutes previous gone 
down into a hole by a stump, standing far out in the field. I 
summoned our faithful Joe, and each of us, armed with a 
shovel, proceeded to the stump. Here we began to dig, follow- 
ing down the hole. The latter ran under the stump, ramified 
a little, and then ran horizontally some two feet below the sur- 
face for about five feet, and then descended rapidly nearly two 
feet more in an additional length of some three and a half feet. 
Not a sign did we see of our much-sought-for Woodchuck 


"The next day * * * j found at the side of the ditch 
and on a level with the passage, which was about two feet 
below the surface, a new hole. Aha! Here it was the Chuck 

^ Loc. cit., p. 106. 

424 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

had hidden. But how was it that we saw no traces of this hole 
when digging ? When we left the ditch the place where this 
hole was was a part of one continuous wall of sand, without 
break or check to indicate that any hole was here."' 

More evidence was secured in another hole that he fol- 
lowed September 30: "At 12 o'clock [he says], just one-half 
hour after the digging began, we came upon a live, robust 
Marmot, ready to do and die in his own defense. After reach- 
ing him, we watched him while a party was sent for a canvas 
bag. Meantime the fellow gave us a specimen of his ability 
by filling up the hole in front of him and thus disappearing 
from view. The time occupied in this operation was one 

Conclusive evidence was furnished by an individual that 
he dug out on October 10. This one was watched again and 
again plugging the hole behind him when exposed by the 
diggers. In half a minute he could completely close it with 
earth so hard packed as almost to defy discovery of the tunnel. 
In this we see the explanation of so many Woodchucks escaping 
underground even from enemies that were able to follow them. 

NEST Most of the burrows opened by Hubbell had one enlarged 

nesting chamber more or less Hned. A few had none; one 
only, the largest and longest (see H in Fig. 125), had six. This 
is the home nest of the individual and the nursery of the young. 

sANiTA- As soon as an animal develops an elaborate home it must 

develop sanitation or suffer from disease. 

Some creatures that fear neither weather nor foes, go forth 
into the air to drop their dung. There are many times when 
the Woodchuck cannot well do this, and to meet the difficulty 
it has invented a dry earth closet. Merriam points out that 
the main gallery of the Woodchuck's burrow commonly 
terminates in a little pocket, where its excrement is found buried. 

From time to time this is removed, and "the mounds in 
front of the large holes frequently, if not generally, contain 

'' Loc. cit., p. 107. ^ Loc. cit., p. 115. 

Woodchuck 425 

accumulations of the animars excrement, and in one case I 
removed fully half a bushel from a single mound."' 

These midden-heaps of the Woodchuck are likely to 
furnish much light on the history of the individual, just as the 
midden-heaps of the Paleoliths are our principal histories of 
their makers. Every scrap of bone or undigested food will 
tell a little story to those who can read such things. 

In a nest of the long burrow, Fisher found the skull of a 

''This find appeared to contradict the assertion by a 
farmer that Marmots would never live in a burrow where a 
Marmot had died."^° 

All the evidence at hand goes to show that the Woodchuck mating 
pairs. It is the testimony of nearly all observers that one or 
else two old Woodchucks (never more) are found in each home 
den. Usually two are seen in early spring, and when the allure- 
ments of the love season are over, the male — in most cases — 
goes forth to other scenes, though probably not to another mate. 
This is an inferior but popular style of monogamy. Pleasant 
variations of it are occasionally seen. Some Woodchuck 
fathers actually seem to stay, or return home, and divide with 
the mother the care of the young. 

The mating ceremonies are believed to take place about the 
middle of March, that is, as soon as the waning of winter sets 
the Woodchucks free to assume active life; and the tracks on 
the snow — if there be any at this time — show that the males 
make many and long journeys from home, are indeed greatly 
concerned on some special and important business on hand — 
what can it be, if not the all-important business of perpetuating 
their race } 

There is, however, some evidence that the pairing takes 
place in the fall. First, it is often the recurrent sex-instinct 
that quenches the mother love, and drives the young forth to 
begin life for themselves; and the young Woodchucks do quit 
home in late summer and go forth to seek their fortunes else- 

'Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 246. '"Loc. cit., p. 115. 

426 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

where. Second, the species is a profound hibernator, and 
many, if not most, hibernators, copulate in the autumn. This, 
indeed, seems to be a rule among hibernators whose gestation 
exceeds six weeks. 

YOUNG The young are born in the underground nest, about the 

end of April. They number from 2 to 8, but are usually 4 or 5, 
and like most rodents, are at birth very undeveloped, and ex- 
ceedingly small. 

As they do not usually come out of the den till mid-June, 
it is probable that they are blind till a month old, and not 
strong enough to venture forth till six or seven weeks after birth. 

At this time, if at all, the father comes back to his family. 
I have heard of several cases; the most detailed was described 
to me by Robert M. Harrison, of Grand Rapids, Mich. 
He says, that on July 6, 1905, at a farm three miles west of the 
city he saw and captured at one hole 2 old Woodchucks and 5 
young ones. He saw 8 young ones late in the afternoon; the 
smaller old one was with them. He several times saw the 
mother come out and look around, then utter a sort of growl 
that brought the young out. 

One day at five o'clock in the morning he saw both parents 
with the 8 young out together feeding. The mother came out 
first and called; the father came out, then went back and 
brought out all the young ones. When they found that he was 
near, the mother — that is, the smaller parent — uttered a low 
groan, that sent the family down below. They often chattered, 
but he never heard them whistle. 

The young begin to eat solid food as soon as they are old 
enough to come forth and find it. They do not usually go far 
from the burrow at this time, but Audubon and Bachman 
record" a case which also gives interesting light on the devotion 
of the mother: 

*' Whilst hunting one day (says a good friend of ours, when 
we were last in Canada), I came across a Woodchuck * * * 
with a litter of 6 or 7 young by her side. I leaped from my horse, 

" Quad. N. A., 1849. Vol. I, p. 21. 

Woodchuck 427 

feeling confident that I could capture at least one or two of them, 
but I was mistaken; for the dam, which seemed to anticipate 
my evil designs, ran round and round the whole of her young 
'Chucks,' urging them toward a hole beneath a rock, with so 
much quickness, energy I may call it, that ere I could lay hands 
on even one of her progeny, she had them all in the hole, into 
which she then pitched herself, and left me gazing in front of 
her well-secured retreat, thus baffling all my exertions." 

By the end of August the young Woodchucks are nearly 
full grown, large enough to think themselves able to care for 
themselves, and the family breaks up. At least, the larger 
number scatter to burrow on their own account. 

Audubon and Bachman mention that "when the young are 
a few months old, they prepare for a separation, and dig a num- 
ber of holes in the vicinity of their early domicile, some of which 
are only a few feet deep, and are never occupied. These numer- 
ous burrows have given rise to the impression that this species 
lives in communities, which we think is not strictly the case." ^^ 

Throughout the autumn, old and young are busied autumn 
storing up food, not in warehouses or vaults that robbers might 
rifle, but in their own skins, as fat, that will keep them doubly 
warm till absorbed. Their winter nests also are warmly lined 
and placed far below reach of the frost. 

About the last of September they retire for the season, 
and all investigations hitherto have proved that sleeping in each 
winter den there is either a solitary very young one or very old 
one, or else a pair — possibly the pair of last season, reunited 
as soon as it was the pleasure of the lady to reunite. 

Exceptional weather may sometimes make the Woodchuck 
come forth again after its retirement, but the rule is otherwise. 
The Woodchuck is one of the country folks' 'Seven-sleepers.' 
Its torpor is indeed profound. Concerning its hibernation 
Audubon and Bachman write:" 

"We are gratified in being able to communicate the follow- 
ing facts, related to us by the Hon. Daniel Wadsworth, of 

" hoc. cit., p. 23. " Loc. cit., pp. 20-21. 

428 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Hartford, Conn. 'I kept,' said he to us, 'a fine Woodchuck 
in captivity in this house for upward of two years. It was 
brought to me by a country lad, and was then large, rather wild, 
and somewhat cross and mischievous; being placed in the 
kitchen, it soon found a retreat, in which it remained con- 
cealed the greater part of its time every day. During several 
nights it attempted to escape by gnawing the door and window- 
sills; gradually it became more quiet, and suffered itself to be 
approached by the inmates of the kitchen, these being the 
cook, a fine dog, and a cat; so that ere many months had 
elapsed if would lie on the floor near the fire, in company 
with the dog, and would take food from the hand of the cook. 
I now began to take a particular interest in its welfare, and had 
a large box made for its use, and filled with hay, to which it 
became habituated, and always retired when inclined to repose. 
Winter coming on, the box was placed in a warm corner, and 
the Woodchuck went into it, arranged its bed with care and 
became torpid. Some six weeks having passed without its 
appearing, or having received any food, I had it taken out of 
the box, and brought into the parlour — it was inanimate, and as 
round as a ball, its nose being buried, as it were, in the lower part 
of its abdomen, and covered by its tail — it was rolled over the 
carpet many times, but without affecting any apparent change 
in its lethargic condition, and being desirous to push the experi- 
ment as far as in my power, I laid it close to the fire, and having 
ordered my dog to lie down by it, placed the Woodchuck in the 
dog's lap. In about half an hour my pet slowly unrolled itself, 
raised its nose from the carpet, looked around for a few minutes, 
and then slowly crawled away from the dog, moving about the 
room as if in search of its own bed ! I took it up and had it 
carried down stairs and placed again in its box, where it went 
to sleep, as soundly as ever, until spring made its appearance. 
That season advancing, and the trees showing their leaves, the 
Woodchuck became as brisk and gentle as could be desired, and 
was frequently brought into the parlour. The succeeding 
winter this animal evinced the same disposition, and never 
appeared to suffer by its long sleep.'" 

Woodchuck 429 

The Woodchuck sleeps in complete torpor for weeks, wood- 
But a popular superstition has it that each year, on the 2d of day 
February, he comes out into the day. If he then sees his 
shadow on the snow he retires for another six weeks' slumber. 
If, on the other hand, no shadow is visible, he continues more 
or less active until spring. 

This superstition seemingly originated among the Negroes 
of the Eastern Middle States, and has this much of truth for 
foundation: The Woodchuck sometimes comes out as early 
as the first week in February. If at that time the sun shines 
brightly on the snow, it means frosty weather, and probably a 
late spring. On the other hand, no snow and low hanging 
rainclouds, are evidence of an open winter, and that fosters 
an early activity on the part of the Woodchuck. 

The spring awakening of the Woodchuck seems to have spring 
little to do with any of the essentials by which it is supposed 
to be guided, namely, weather and food. Merriam says:^^ 
''The remarkable circumstance has already been noticed that 
the Woodchuck often retires to winter quarters, when sur- 
rounded by an abundance of food, and during the continuance 
of fine warm weather; but still more surprising is the fact that 
he generally emerges from his hole and tunnels to the surface 
while the ground is buried in snow to the depth of several feet, 
and when no green thing is to be found upon which he can 
feed. He not only comes to the surface, but makes long 
journeys in various directions over the snow-covered land, and 
is apt to continue these apparently aimless pilgrimages night 
after night until the fast-melting snow enables him to reach 
the much-coveted grass, which has been kept fresh and green in 
places by its heavy covering." 

Of course this is where its great store of fat is of service. 
Doubtless this is absorbed during the weeks of scarcity in the 
early spring. 

The warm, bright days with greening grass come on, the 
cold and the snow are gone, and the Woodchuck now sits at 

'* Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 242. 

430 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the door of its cell, enjoying to the full the good things of life, 
and possibly giving expression to it in a way that is worthy 
of happy, higher beings. Well-fed, unafraid, revelling in the 
warm sun, stretched prone or rearing back against a bank, its 
limp limbs drooped in joyous sloth, it rejoices in the good things 
of life, and yields, we believe, but have not yet shown, to the 
subtle sensuous thrill which stirs the hidden springs of song. 
True, I never heard from a Woodchuck any sound but the 
shrill, rattling whistle of alarm, which bids the foe keep off, or 
warns its distant neighbour of the foe, and the low growl or 
whine of mother and young, or the sound of menace made by 
its grating teeth. But we have a hint of what may yet be 
learned when we approach the philosophical "red monk" of 
the fields in a way that at length will win its confidence and 
open the secrets of its pleasant life. 
THE SONG The article that gives the hint is from the pen of Dr. A. 


WOOD- Kellogg. "For the last forty years [he writes^^] the fact of the 
common Maryland Marmot, or Woodchuck, being able to sing 
like a canary bird, but in a softer, sweeter note, has been quite 
familiar to myself and others, who could be brought forward as 
witnesses." He then speaks of a very young Woodchuck which 
he raised, and goes on to say: **It had a seat in the little high 
chair at the children's table full oft. Its earnest and restless 
concupiscent purr as it scented sweet cake and fragrant viands 
was wonderful. At length it became as familiar as the family 
cat, and finally burrowed under the doorstep. My impression 
is now, and always has been, that it was a female. I used 
to watch the pet very closely to see how it sang, as children are 
apt to do. There was a slight moving of the nostrils and lips, 
and consequently whiskers, with an air of unmistakable happy 
or serene enjoyment. I question much if this is altogether un- 
known to others, always excepting naturalists.'^ 



ALL At one time I considered the exemplary Woodchuck 

strictly a creature of daylight, sunlight preferred. But many 

'* Singing Maryland Marmot, Am. Nat., June, 1872, pp. 365-6. Quoted by Mer- 

Woodchuck 431 

recent observers have discovered evidence that in warm weather 
the Woodchucks come out by night, especially by moonlight, 
and are partial to a twilight ramble. 

The Woodchuck Is but a slow creature. If surprised in on the 
the open it knows that its only hope is to get back to its den, and 
this it proceeds to do with vigorous bounds; but at its best it 
will be overtaken by dog or boy if far from home. From the 
latter it may escape by dodging — but the travelling Woodchuck 
found by a dog is quickly gathered to its fathers. 

Nevertheless the creature can climb. This Is a peren- 
nial subject of discussion in the sporting magazines. And 
yet every naturalist who has written fully on the Woodchuck 
within a hundred years, has discovered and announced that 
the Woodchuck can, and does occasionally, climb a tree. It 
does not go up with the bewildering quickness of a Squirrel, 
not even with the steady certainty of a Coon, nor is it so sure of 
itself as the logy Porcupine, but up it certainly does go, as 
scores of observers have testified. 

The Rev. C. A. Richmond, of Albany, N. Y., writes me 
on December 31, 1901 : *'In October, 1892, I was out with an 
old hunter after deer. We were in the thick woods about the 
headwaters of the Alleghany River, in McKean County, Pa. 
We were on our way home and had nearly reached a small 
clearing, when we saw the hound give chase to an animal, 
which, after running a few yards, climbed up a tree and 
crawled out upon a small branch. 

■"As we came under the tree we saw the Woodchuck, 
for it was an ordinary everyday Woodchuck, clutching the 
branch for dear life, and the dog giving tongue and leaping 
furiously in the air. The Woodchuck was evidently not at 
home, and in a few moments fell to the ground and was 
instantly dispatched by the hound. It was a full-grown male, 
unusually dark in colour. The tree was a soft maple, the 
trunk about fourteen mches in diameter, perpendicular, and 
of the average roughness. The branch was perhaps six 
inches in thickness. 



^ 4 

IM h 


Fig. 126 — Woodchuck. (.1/. monax canadensis.') 

Upper part is series of tracks made at Cos Cob. Conn, a is track of right fore-foot ; b of right-hind. The series d shows track in 

walking-; e and y'show tracks speeding. 
e is right-fore and h right-hind of a small female (natural size). i is the same individual: taken on Athabaska River, May s8. 1907. 


Woodchuck 433 

"The old hunter and I sat down on a log and discussed 
this Woodchuck question in all its many phases. The incident 
did not surprise him, as it did me." 

I have never seen a Woodchuck up a tree, but I have seen 
one run along the top of a high rail fence in Muskoka, and am 
satisfied that Merriam very correctly summarized the case so 
long ago as i88i : 

"Woodchucks [says he'"], when molested, and particularly 
during their youthful days, often climb up ten or twelve feet in 
shrubbery and young trees that abound in low branches, and 
not infrequently scramble up the trunks of large trees, which 
have partially fallen or slant sufficiently to insure them against 
slipping. Occasionally, especially when hard pressed by a 
fast-approaching enemy, they ascend large erect trees whose 
lowest branches are some distance from the ground. But, in 
order to do this, they must take advantage of the impetus of 
a rush, for they cannot start slowly upon the trunk of an up- 
right tree and climb more than a few feet without falling. 
Neither can they stop and go on again before reaching a branch 
or other resting place." 

In the water, from all accounts, the Woodchuck is far from swim- 
being at home. It can swim, but poorly; and wisely eschews " 
the element wherein it is at such a disadvantage. 

So far as I know, it does not even drink; but, like the 
Rabbit, satisfies its bodily need for liquid with the juices of 
food-plants, aided, no doubt, by their sprinkUng with rain or 

' Grass and clover are believed to be its favourite foods, food 
but it will eat almost anything that a pig will eat. I never 
caught one feeding on flesh, but suspect that, like most rodents, 
it adds an occasional meat variant to its diet. 

Long after the above was written the following instance 
was related to me by Ernest O. Leighly, of Hartville, Ohio: 

Last spring he was near an old mill-dam on Henlines's 
farm, at Bolivar, Tuscarora County, Ohio, when he came on a 

" F. & S, July 7, 1881, p. 453- 

434 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

mother quail with a large brood. They scattered and hid 
at her order and she tried to lead him away, but he stood still, 
and at length found two sitting on the bare ground before him. 
He picked one up; it struggled for a time, but became quiet in 
his hand. He waited half an hour. The mother had flown 
away down the valley and now came cautiously back. He was 
quite still. The mother gave a low call once or twice, then 
gradually the young reappeared and heads popped up here 
and there from the leaves, and soon they all ran to her, and 
were led away. When she was out of sight he quietly set 
down the one he had in his hand. It ran after the mother, 
but he moved slightly and this scared the chick. It scrambled 
up a bank, found a Ground-hog's hole and ran in there. A 
moment later the Ground-hog came out licking his lips and 
looking for the rest of the quail. 

This incident is not conclusive, but is suspicious. We 
must, however, admit that it is unfair in any case to judge of 
a race by its degenerates. 

usETo The flesh of the Woodchuck is excellent eating if properly 

prepared. Its pelt is not to be desired as fur, but the leather 
and the skin are in demand for mit-facings and whip-lashes. 

In boyhood days we used to prepare the leather thus: 
Wrap up the raw, fresh pelt with plenty of hardwood ashes on 
its flesh side. After two or three days the hair slips off, or can 
be scraped off. Soak the skin then for a week in soft soap, and 
work thoroughly till it dries soft. Failing the soap, a strong 
brine of salt and alum will serve. 

When Woodchucks are over-numerous they become a 
nuisance, not only by destroying the crops near their dens, but 
by digging holes that endanger the legs of the horses and 
necks of the riders. In such cases a skilful trapper can soon 
thin them out, or an expert rifleman may clear the farm in a 
week of two; or finally — and most drastic — by putting the poi- 
sonous bisulphide gas down each den, one can mercifully and 
effectually, send the occupants to a sleep from which they do 


Woodchuck 435 

not awake. This plan was invented by the United States Bio- 
logical Survey, and has proved most effectual. 

But it is rarely that such measures must be resorted to, 
and when in reasonable numbers the harmless philosophic 
Woodchuck must commend itself to all who are interested in 
picturesque wild life. 

My own experiences with the species in Manitoba have the 
been but few. I knew it much better in Ontario and the chucks 
Eastern States, where it continues in numbers, despite the ^°^^ 
efforts of farmers who do not appreciate the aesthetic beauties 
of its philosophic life — who are so bigoted, indeed, that they 
would rather kill one than lose a horse or an acre of clover. 

In my early days about Lindsay, Ontario, the Woodchuck 
was the largest wild animal that entered into the lives of us 
boys. In the grain fields, still dotted with stumps, it found a 
homeland very much to its taste. With some great stump to 
stand guard over its doorway, its roots for posts to block all 
ruthless digging foes, its top to furnish a sunning place and 
observatory, each fat, contented Woodchuck lived — the happy 
lord of the small domain about its door. At times, though 
rarely, the long rifle of the grown-ups would end the career of 
some rack-renting Chuck that wasted by overtaxing its little 
manor; or perhaps the Fox, who prowled early, snapped 
up the Woodchuck that prowled late. But upon the whole 
it had little to fear from any but the boys and their ever- 
present auxiliary, the house dog. Many times, as I now 
recall with over-long delayed remorse, we played a boyish, 
fiendish part. That same old dog, by cutting off some Chuck 
afield from its fortress, would drive it into a treacherous 
hollow log or burrow just begun. Here it needs must turn to 
fight — for the Woodchuck, though wisely ready ever to retreat 
if possible, will never surrender. No, it is a fighter, and fight 
it will, with the courage of a hero, both dogs and boys innumer- 
able; whistling its shrill alarm, desperately grating its teeth 
till their splinters fly, seizing on anything, dog or stick, that 
comes in reach; defying all, till the brutal twisting-stick 

436 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

entangled in its fur gives it the unexpected jerk that throws 
it on the mercy of foes that know no mercy; a scuffle then — 
a crunching of bones — and the Red Monk's Hfe has ended 
in a tragedy. 

But these were individual cases. The race is far indeed 
from ending. In those, that now I call my Woodchuck days, 
the Bear, the Deer, the Beaver, the Wolf, and even the Porcu- 
pine were gone, but the Woodchuck throve, as still it does. 
Without the cunning, the speed, the strength, the armament, 
or the prowess of any of these, it still has a secret better than all 
that gifts it with power to hold its own. The secret of its life 
and the sum of its wisdom is this — keep close to the ground. 
In time of fear it flies to Mother Earth. This, indeed, is wisdom, 
for our wise men tell us all flesh is earthborn Anteus-like, that 
nations die as surely as they quit the soil. Here man himself 
might learn a lesson; while others pass away, the Woodchuck's 
race yet lives and thrives and holds its ancient range. 

Northern or Canadian Flying-squirrel. 

Sciuropterus sabrinus (Shaw). 

(Gr. Skiouros, a squirrel; pteron a wing; L. sabrinus, of Severn River.) 

Sciurus sabrinus Shaw, i8oi, Gen. Zool,, II, p. 157. 
Sciuropterus sabrinus Bangs, 1896, Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., X, 

p. 162. 

Type Locality. — Severn River, Keewatin, Canada. 

French Canadian, VAsapan; le Polatouche; VEcu- 

reuil volant. 
Cree, Sha-ka-skan'-da-way-o. 
OjiB. & Saut., Sha-ka-skan'-da-way ( = flying 

Chipewyan, .? Thee-chin Nok-ky'-ay. 
Yankton Sioux, Poh-kahn. 
Ogallala Sioux, Psin'-cha. 

The genus Sciuropterus (F. Cuvier, 1825) comprises noc- 
turnal squirrel-like animals, with large eyes and ears, clad in 
very soft velvety fur, with tail flattened, and with a flying mem- 
brane between the legs on each side, supported and enlarged by 
a spur developed from the pisiform bone; the teeth are: 

I— I 2—2 ^— ^ 

Inc. ; prem. ; mol. ^-^ =22 

i-i i-i ^-^ 

In addition to the generic characters the Canadian Flying- 
squirrel has: 

Length, 12 inches (305 mm.); tail, 6 inches (152 mm.); size 
hind-foot, i| inches (38 mm.). 

Its general colour above is soft fawn-brown, much broken colour 
with the lead-coloured under-fur showing through, especially 
on the upper side of the wings. Toward the edge of these flaps 


438 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

the colour becomes a very dark blackish brown, which forms 
a band and ends sharply against the white of the under sides. 

The under parts of the animal are white, but next the 
body the fur is a dull leaden gray. The under side of the tail is 
more or less tinged with fawn colour, and there is a blackish 
ring around each eye. 

In winter it is much browner above and tinged with yellow 

Female similar. 

When seen alive it looks like a buff and slate-coloured 
Squirrel with very solid, flat tail, and white or creamy breast. 

From its near relatives in America it may be distinguished 

sahrinus Shaw, is about 12 inches long, of which the 

tail is 6; it has hind-foot 1 1. Fur on breast white, 

but ashy at roots} 
volans Linn., is much smaller, having, 1., 9 in; t., 4; 

hft., l|. Fur on under parts pure white to roots, 
alpinus Rich., somewhat like sabrinus, but larger and 

grayer. Size, 1., 12 in.; t., 5; hft., i|. 
yukonensis Osgood, largest of all with very long tail; 

it is darker than the others, and tinged fulvous on 

under parts. Size, 1., 14; t., 7; hft., if. 

The following races oi sabrinus are recognized: 
sabrinus Shaw, the typical form. 
macrotis Mearns, smaller, with longer ears and redder 

silus Bangs, smaller and much darker than sabrinus. 
makkovikensis Sornborger, a large and very dark form. 

RANGE The type was described from Severn River. My speci- 

mens, taken at Rat Portage (now Kenora), Winnipeg, Morden, 
and Carberry, are true sabrinus, as doubtless are all within 

'While this was in press E. A. Preble's N. A. Fauna, No. 27, appeared; in that 
the author claims that in the Mackenzie Region alpinus grades into sabrinus, p. 172. 


This map is founded chiefly on the records by J. A. Allen, Audubon and Hachman, C. Hart Merriam, John Richardson, S. 
C. H. Townsend, John Fannin, A. P. Low, O. Bangs, W. H. Osgood, V. liailey, Edward A. Preble. 

It must be considered diagrammatic and provisional. All the North .\merican species are entered. 

N. Rhoads, 

Scluroplerus sabrinus (Shaw), with 4 races, 
Sciuroplerus oolans (Linn.), with 2 races. 

Scluroplerus alpinus (Richardson), with 10 races, 
Sciuroplerus yukonensis Osgood. 


440 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Manitoba. The species is reported plentiful at all of the 
above-named places, except Morden. 

Rosser writes that it is common at Lake Winnipegosis. 

Russell obtained a single specimen at Grand Rapids where 
it is very rare.- Preble got several hunter's skins from Norway 
House. ^ Professor Robert Bell says:^ "It is common around 
Norway House. Occurs about Oxford House and Nelson 
River House on the Churchill River." 

Audubon and Bachman say:^ "We found this interesting 
Flying-squirrel in abundance at Quebec, and many of them 
were offered for sale in the markets of that city during our 
sojourn there. It appears, indeed, to take the place of the 
common small Flying-squirrel of the United States (P. volucella) 
in lower Canada, where we did not observe the latter east of 

It is recorded for New Brunswick," Nova Scotia,^ Prince 
Edward's Island,^ Big Island on Mackenzie River,^ Fort 
Liard, Isle a la Crosse, and Lac du Brochet.^" I got a specimen 
at Fort Resolution in 1907. 

Thus the northern Flying-squirrel is a species of the 
true Canadian zone east of the Rockies. It is to be looked 
for in all the wooded parts of Manitoba, though apparently 
most abundant in the heavily timbered parts of the south 
and west. 

ENvi- I have never seen or heard of Flying-squirrels far away 

MENT from large timber whose hollow trunks, or woodpeckers' holes 

afford its favourite nesting places. It is so nearly dependent 

on the woodpeckers for its tenement quarters that it will not be 

found where no woodpeckers are. 

^ Expl. Far. North, 1898, p. 249. 
^ N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, p. 44. 

* Rep. Prog. Can. Geol. Surv., 1882-3-4, App. II, p. 48 DD. 

* Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 203. 

* A. L. Adams, Field and Forest Rambles, 1873, P- 99- 

^ J. B. Gilpin, Trans. Inst. Nat. Hist. Nova Scotia, 1869, Vol. II, p. 14. 
« C. B. Bagster, Pr. Ed. Id., 1861, p. 88. 
^Monog. Rodentia, Sciuridae. J. A. Allen, 1877, p. 662. 
^° R. MacFarlane, Mam. N. W. T., Proc. U. S. N. M., 1905, p. 749. 

Northern Flying-squirrel 441 

I have no direct evidence on the home-range of this home- 
species, but analogy with other Squirrels and the absence of 
any migratory habit lead me to believe that the Flying-squirrel 
is content with a domain of two or three acres. 

In my Connecticut home woods I have more than once abun- 
found three Flying-squirrel (volans) nests within a radius of 
fifty yards. This instance sheds some light on the creature's 
abundance — three families within two acres; and therefore I 
should say that here the Flying-squirrel is more abundant than 
the Red-squirrel, and yet is rarely seen. Its secretive noctur- 
nal habits lead many to believe that it is not found in their 
locality, even though it may be the most numerous of its group. 

I never knew of more than one family together in the nest- socia- 


ing time, but in December, 1882, I found 9 adults living in one 
stub at Carberry. They were so close together that a rifle ball 
fired by my companion at the stub below their hole killed 4 and 
wounded another of the 9. They were undoubtedly profiting by 
each other's company for warmth, therefore this animal is some- 
what sociable. The kindred species is well known to nest in 
colonies where some specially favourable spot is discovered. 

The cry of this species is said to be like that of volans, voice 
which is a prolonged squeak not unlike the complaint of a 
red-eyed vireo whose nest is threatened. 

My observations on volans tend to show that that species mating 
pairs, and that the male takes an active interest in the young. 
I have not been able to watch sahrinus at the season of repro- 
duction, but analogy prepares one to believe that in domestic 
matters it is as good as its near relative. 

The usual nesting place is a deserted hole, but any hoi- nest- 
low tree will serve. 

The young number from 3 to 6 and are born about the young 
last of April. 

442 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

A female Flying-squirrel taken at Winnipeg by E. W. Dar- 
bey, on April 21st, contained 6 young ready for birth; 4 young 
found in a nest May 15th, are but little larger than the foregoing, 
each was 4I inches long, tail i|, eyes not opened. They were 
probably three weeks or a month old. Dr. Merriam says^^ 
"June 1 8th, 1883, Dr. A. K. Fisher and the writer found the 
nest of a Northern Flying-squirrel at West Pond near Big 
Moose Lake. It was in the last year's nest of a three-toed 
woodpecker {Picoides arcticus) in a tamarack (Larix amer- 
icana) and the entrance hole faced the east, about ten feet 
above the ground. On cutting down the tree the nest was 
found to contain three nursing young, not yet one-third grown; 
they were estimated to be about a month old. They were fed 
on condensed milk diluted with water, until we left the woods, 
and afterward on fresh milk and vegetables. One of them 
grew very rapidly, attaining nearly two-thirds the size of his 
parents by the loth of July, when it was accidentally killed. 
They were all perfectly tame and acted much like the young 
of the common Flying-squirrel." 

The devotion of the Flying-squirrel mother is touchingly 
set forth by Audubon and Bachman^^ in their account of a 
family of this species. 

"This brood was procured as follows: A piece of partially 
cleared wood having been set on fire, the labourers saw the 
Flying-squirrel start from a hollow stump with a young one in 
her mouth and watched the place where she deposited it, in 
another stump at a little distance. The mother returned to her 
nest and took away another and another in succession until all 
were removed, when the woodcutters went to the abode now 
occupied by the affectionate animal, and caught her already 
singed by the flame of the fire, and her five young unscathed." 

These with their mother were kept in confinement about 
four months and carefully observed. 

Nursing was performed thus: "The younglings stood on 
the ground floor of the cage, whilst the mother hung her body 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 207. '^ Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 204. 

Northern Flying-squirrel 443 

downwards, and secured herself from falling by clinging to the 
perch immediately above her head by her forefeet. This was 
observed every day, and some days as frequently as eight or 
ten times." [Nevertheless we must not suppose that this is 
the normal attitude of all Canadian Flying-squirrels while 

*' Alter some time a pair of the young were given away to a 
friend. The three remaining ones, as well as the mother, were 
killed in the following manner: 

"The cage containing them was hung near the window, 
and one night during the darkness a rat or rats (Mus decu- 
manus) caught hold of the three young through the bars and 
ate off all their flesh, leaving the skins almost entire, and the 
heads remaining inside the bars. The mother had her thigh 
broken and her flesh eaten from the bone, and yet this good 
parent was so affectionately attached to her brood that, when 
she was found in this pitiable condition in the morning, she 
was clinging to her offspring and trying to nurse them as if they 
had still been alive." 

Owls, Foxes, Martens, and Weasels are also to be num- ^^^ 
bered among the enemies of this gentle creature. 

J. S. Charleson writes me that in January, 1905, T. S. 
Kittson shot a barred owl in Riding Mountain, Manitoba, 
and found in its stomach a Flying-squirrel. 

Professor Macoun tells me that in British Columbia he 
once found the body of a Flying-squirrel in a trout. 

The hardiness of this merry night-prowler is such that, hardi- 
although it ranges north-west as far as the Arctic circle, it is not ' 
known to hibernate at any time. 

As Merriam says:^^ *'The mercury may indicate a temper- 
ature many degrees below zero, or snow may be falling in 
quantities sufficient to obstruct the vision, without seeming in 
any way to dishearten this merry adventurer. The last rays 
of the departing sun have scarcely disappeared from the western 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, pp. 206-7. 

444 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

horizon before the sombre shades that mark the approach of 
winter night commence to gather about the snowclad forest. 
Whether bright stars sparkle and shine through a frosty 
atmosphere, or heavy, leaden clouds overhang the scene, 
makes little difference to the Northern Flying-squirrel. He 
emerges from his warm nest, takes a hasty survey of the sur- 
roundings lest some wily owl should lurk hard by, glides 
silently to a neighbouring tree, and starts forthwith upon his 
nightly tour in quest of food and sport. 

" Prompted either by hunger or curiosity, or by a combina- 
tion of the two, he examines every unusual object with scrupu- 
lous care, and as one result is always getting into traps set for 
valuable fur — and this whether they are baited with mammal, 
bird, or fish. Indeed, the nature of the bait seems to be a 
matter of the most trivial consequence, as it often consists of 
Red and Flying-squirrels that have previously been taken in 
the trap. Even in this case another is as likely to be the 
next thing caught as any animal in the wilderness. Hence 
it happens that the trapper comes to look upon him as an 
unmitigated nuisance." 

FOOD Nuts are doubtless the favourite food of this bright-eyed 

night-prowler, but these are scarce in northern Manitoba, and 
spruce seeds probably are its mainstay. Moreover, there is 
every reason (except direct evidence) to believe that the 
Northern Flying-squirrel, like its relative, will eat bark, buds, 
fruit, seeds, nuts, insects, birds, or meat; is, indeed, perfectly 

The following curious incident from the pen of Prowler " ^^ 
refers to the present species in New Brunswick: 

"An odd experience befell Mr. Hunter during his return 
from a hunting trip to the settlement last fall. One evening 
he left a candle burning on the table in the Forty-Nine-Mile 
Camp while he went out to the hovel to look after the horses. 
To his surprise, when he returned to the camp the candle was 
not only extinguished, but could nowhere be found! Mr. 

" Frank H. Risteen in Forest and Stream. 

Northern Flying-squirrel 445 

Hunter is not entirely free from the influence of these wild, 
weird legends peculiar to the backwoods of the MIramlchI, 
especially those that relate to a fabulous monster known as the 
'Dungarvon Hooper/ He lit another candle, however, and 
went out to attend to his team. When he came back he found 
that the second candle had vanished as mysteriously as the 
first! This was a severe blow to Mr. Hunter's peace of mind, 
but he pulled himself together and examined the camp 
thoroughly to see if some practical joker was not concealed 
about the premises. Finding no traces of anything in human 
form, he placed his third and last candle on the table, stood his 
axe within easy reach, and awaited developments. In a few min- 
utes a Flying-squirrel hopped in the door, boldly mounted the 
table, and knocked down the candle, thus extinguishing the 
flame. He started for the door with his booty when Mr. 
Hunter took a hand and put the little rascal to flight." 

The few of this species that I have observed in daylight speed, 
were far inferior to a Red-squirrel in activity. Audubon and 
Bachman mention ^^ that at Quebec they heard of one that was 
caught alive by a soldier, who saw it in the Plains of Abraham 
and ran it down. But it is scarcely fair to judge the swiftness 
of a night animal by its speed in the dazzling day. 

Its flight is like that of the common Flying-squirrel, but flight 
more extended. A Squirrel will shoot from a tree at an angle 
of about 30 degrees to the perpendicular trunk, but the angle 
increases as he goes downward. When he is twenty-five feet 
down, he is about the same distance from the trunk. Then he 
goes horizontally and at last a little upward, landing about 
as far from the starting point as he is below it. 

I have no record of this Flying-squirrel Indulging in amuse- 
sociable amusements, but Audubon and Bachman'" give an 
interesting description of a social gathering of the southern 
species that will at least show us what to look for in the present 

">N. A. Quad., 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 203. '« Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 218. 

446 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

It was a calm evening in early autumn near Philadelphia 
as the naturalist sat in an ancient grove. About sunset the 
Flying-squirrels began to appear, until not less than 200 were 
in sight, sailing and coasting in air from tree to tree, scores at a 
time crossing and recrossing in all directions, apparently for the 
joy of flight rather than in an endless game of catch. When it 
was too dark for further observation the naturalist left them, 
but the party was still at its height. 

SWIM- Unlike the day Squirrels, this species is apparently a poor 

swimmer. Merriam tells of individuals found drowned in sap 
buckets even, and so many specimens have been found drowned 
in cisterns and wells that one is forced to believe that it has 
bartered its power in the water, and to some extent its activity 
on land and in the trees, for its very limited mastery of the air. 
This no doubt accounts in part for the fact that in North 
America the Flying-squirrel is practically confined to the 



(Castor canadensis Kuhl.) 
The pair in the water are having a friendly nibbling match. 


Canadian Beaver. 

Castor canadensis Kuhl. 
(L. Castor, a beaver; L. canadensis, of Canada.) 

Castor canadensis KuHL, 1820. Beitrage Z. Zool., p. 64. 
Type Locality. — Hudson's Bay. 

French Canadian, le Castor. 
Cree, Ah-misk'. 
MusKEGO, Ah-mik-kuk. 
OjiB, Ah-mik\ 
Chipewyan, Tsa. 
Yankton Sioux, Tcha-pa. 
Ogallala Sioux, Chan-pah^. 

The Family Castoridce contains but one genus, Castor 
(Linnaeus, 1758); the animals in this are very large rodents of 
aquatic habits. They have a massive skull of general squirrel- 
type; short ears; 5 toes on each foot; the hind-foot webbed; 
the claw of second toe on hind-foot is double (possibly for 
use as a comb and louse-trap); tail broad, flat horizontally, 
and scaly; the incisors of a deep orange colour. 

ieeth: inc. ^ ; prem. ; mol. ^^^-^ = 20 

i-i i-i ^-1, 

In addition to these generic characters, the Canadian 
Beaver has: Length, 43 inches (1,092 mm.); tail, 16 inches 
(406 mm.), of which the scaly part is 9 inches (229 mm.) long 
and 4I inches (115 mm.) wide; hind-foot, 7 inches (177 mm.). 

A male which I got near Great Slave River, July 1 1, 1907, weight 
weighed 30 pounds; this was considered of fair size. But I 
saw one weighed at 54 pounds; this was taken at Broken- 
head, Manitoba, in 1886; and although Bachman gives' 61 

' Quad N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 353. 


448 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

pounds as a maximum, W. R. Hine tells me that he weighed 
a 68-pound Beaver that came from Port Arthur. 
COLOUR The general colour is a deep, dark chestnut, darker on 

the ears, paler and grayer below; the cheeks pale brown, in 
contrast with the crown; the region above and at each side of 
the tail, cinnamon rufous or bright chestnut. 

When alive the Beaver looks like a huge Muskrat, but 
the broad, flattened tail is a distinctive mark at all ages. 

Both black and white freaks are found. The black pelts 
are worth about double the common ones; the white have no 
especial value. 

The Canadian Beaver differs chiefly from that of Europe 
in being much larger and in having shorter nasal bones; these 
in the European measure considerably more than one-third the 
distance between the incisors and the occipital crest, and in 
the Canadian about one-third. 

The following races oi canadensis are recognized : 

canadensis Kuhl, the typical form, and smal- 
lest {a). 

carolinensis Rhoads, larger than the type, with 
broader tail (b). 

frondator Mearns, larger and paler than the 
type, with scaly part of tail shorter than 
twice the width {c). 

pacificus Rhoads, largest and darkest of all. 
Fig. 127-These wlth scaly part of tail longer than twice the 

diagrams (ex- 

cept «) are Width (d). 

from the de- ^ ' 

do"''il/"a^ee texcusis Bailey, very large and pale, with scaly 

u^ specimens' part of tall longer than twice the width {e) . 


Map 25 (page 449) shows that the Beaver ranged over 
all temperate America wherever there was wood and water. 
The outline may stand as its present habitat, but there are 
great blanks where it has been exterminated. The Mississippi 


Castor canadensis Kuhl. 

Founded chiefly on records bv S. Hcamc, T. Richardson, L. H. Morcan, Auduhon and Bachman. R. Bell, D. G. Elliot, H. Y. Hind. S. 
Rhoads, J. Fannin, E. W. Nelson, O. BanKs. E. A. Meams, E. A. Preble. V. Bailey, F. M. Chapman, and E. T. Seton. 
This map must be considered provisiona' and diagrammatic ; the north boundary only is well established. 



450 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

drainage is practically without Beaver to-day except at the head- 
waters of the streams that come from the north and west. 

An interesting note on northern distribution is contributed 
by Dr. R. Bell, of Ottawa: 

**0n the west side of Hudson's Bay [says he"] the north- 
ern limit of the Beaver is rather south of the mouth of the 
Churchill River. A party of natives, who had found a family 
of Beavers some distance up the North River, between the 
Churchill and the Seal Rivers, related the circumstances as un- 
usual for that latitude." The exact place is shown on the 
map by a cross a little west of the mouth of the Churchill 
IN MANi- One hundred years ago the Beaver abounded in every wil- 

low-fringed stream in Manitoba. 

Alexander Henry's fur returns on Red River show the 
following account of Beaver skins. ^ (I give the modern names 
of the places): 


1 800-01 Reed or Roseau River, 832; Park River, 643 1475 

1801-02 Grand Forks, 410; Pembina Mountain, 200; 
Scratching River, 130; Pembina River, 
629 1369 

1802-03 Pembina River, 550; Turtle River, 337; Red 
Lake, 85; Pembina Mountain, 30; Long 
Prairie, 150; Bear's Head, 254; Lake 
Manitoba, 116; Portage la Prairie, 229 . 1751 

1803-04 Portage la Prairie, 219; Lake Manitoba, 131 ; 
Long Prairie, 100; Netley Creek, 520; 
The Forks (/. ^., Winnipeg), 356; Pem- 
bina Mountain, 182; Park River, 147; 
Pembina River, 211 .... 1866 

1804-05 Portage la Prairie, 294; Dog Lake, 648; Long 
Prairie, 184; Netley Creek, 350; White 
Mud River, 150; Pembina Mountain, 
121; Salt River, 160; Pembina River, 829 2736 

* Observ. Hudson's Bay, etc., Geol. Sur. Can., 1884., p. 49, App. 11. 
'Alexander Henry's Journal, 1897, pp. 184, 198, 221, 245, 259, 281, 422, 440. 

Beaver 451 

1805-06 Portage la Prairie, 116; Dog Lake, 103; 
Fort Wasp Mountain ( ?), 284; Grand 
Forks, 342; Pembina River, 776 . . 1621 

1806-07 Portage la Prairie, 47; Middle Creek, 72; Sand- 
hill River, Minn., 500 ; Pembina River, 565 1 1 84 

1807-08 Netley Creek, 54; Pembina Mountain, 53; 

Grand Forks, 150; Pembina River, 339 596 

An average of 1,587 a year for eight years from a region 
that was probably about 40,000 square miles, or about i to each 
25 square miles, which is very low, even though there were 
several rival traders in the country collecting each an equal 
amount of fur. Henry abandoned the region on August 8, 
1808, giving as a reason "the country being almost destitute 
of Beaver and other fur,"^ etc. 

In the early 8o's Professor Macoun found Beaver very 
numerous in the Red Deer River country near Fort Pelly. 
In 1883 I found a few in Duck Mountain; in 1886 they were 
very scarce everywhere, even about such famous Beaver ranges 
as Lake of the Woods and the northern country generally. In 
the south-western parts of the Province they were unknown. 

At the present time, owing to good game laws, they are on 
the increase. 

The average annual total of Beaver skins brought out by ^^ 
the American fur companies and the Hudson's Bay Company 
for the period between i860 and 1870, when the fur trade was 
at its height, is, in round numbers, 153,000. But the natives 
used as many good pelts as they sold and seldom saved the 
skins of those taken in summer, though they killed for food the 
whole year round. So that 500,000 per annum is more likely 
to represent the aggregate destruction by man. This was at 
least doubled by other agencies, and the total annual death 
rate would reach not less than 1,000,000. 

This evidently was more than they could stand, for their 
numbers steadily dwindled. A creature breeding as fast as a 

* Henry's Journal, p. 256. 

452 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Beaver is supposed to add 20 per cent, per annum to its popu- 
lation, therefore 1,000,000, being somewhat over 20 per cent., 
would leave us about 5,000,000 as the possible original popu- 

Approaching the question in another way: In the late 
50's L. H. Morgan explored thoroughly a Beaver country on 
the south-west shore of Lake Superior, immediately west of 
Marquette. It was 6 by 8 miles. In his map^ of this he shows 
63 dams and 39 lodges. Each lodge was estimated to repre- 
sent 7 Beaver, that is, 273 in all, or 5§ to the square mile. 
But he mentions that only a portion of the lodges are shown 
on the map. A reading of the text leads us to believe that the 
number was double those marked, so that the ratio may have 
been 10 to the square mile. 

From all accounts they were much more numerous in 
British America and in the Rockies, where, according to 
Prevost,^ one trapper sometimes took 500 Beaver in the year. 
But they were much less abundant in the Plains country and 
Mississippi Valley proper, therefore 3 to the square mile is 
a reasonable estimate. The entire Beaver range is about 
6,000,000 square miles, so that 18,000,000 might have been 
the total population. With these figures in view one is safe 
in setting the original Beaver population at not less than 
10,000,000 in years of abundance. "'- 

The Hudson's Bay Company still draws 30,000 to 50,000 
Beaver skins per annum from its territories, while rival traders 
secure at least a third as many. The destruction from various 
other causes will easily bring the total to 100,000 per annum, 
and since the species is able to stand it, I believe this drain 
to be not more than 20 per cent, of the present numbers, or 
about 500,000. 

^ In The American Beaver and His Works, 1868, a standard volume which must be 
the starting-point for all Beaver studies, p. 82. 

" Quoted by Aud. & Bach., Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 354. 

°^ Dr. T. S. Palmer tells me that in the Algonquin Park, which is nearly 2,000 
square miles, the Beaver population is estimated at 100,000, or 50 to the square mile. 
This represents maximum abundance. If there is no error in the figure, it means that 
my estimate of the primitive Beaver population in North America should be multiplied 
at least by 5. E. T. S. 

Beaver 453 

Sluggish streams and small lakes with clay banks that are envi- 
well-wooded with aspen and willow are the favourite haunts ^^^t 
of the Beaver. Streams that run in rocky beds, or that dry up 
in summer, and large rock-bound lakes are equally shunned. 

The individual range is very small for so large an animal. home_ 

111* 1 1 ■ RANG! 

When the pair have found and settled m a place that suits 
them they do not travel half a mile from home. When, on 
the other hand, an unmated Beaver is seeking a partner or a 
good location, he may wander for a dozen miles. 

At Big Dam Lake, 40 miles east of Kippewa, Quebec, 
on September 21, 1905, I saw much Beaver work and learned 
from Mittigwab, the Indian guide, that all of this was the work 
of one old male Beaver that had lived here alone for two or 
three years. He wanders as much as 15 miles up stream from 
the Lake and ij miles from water, in search of company, 
especially in early spring when the ice first breaks up. 

But his quest of a mate has been unsuccessful so far (1905), 
in spite of much advertising, for his mud-pies, with a dash of 
informational castor, were on every corner and point for at 
least 100 miles of shore.'' 

The dam is the most famous if not the most remarkable of the 
the Beaver's undertakings. It is a vast structure of sticks, stones 
and roots, mud and sod laid across a running stream to back 
up the water, ensure the Beavers depth enough to protect them 
from their enemies all summer, and preclude all danger of 
its freezing to the bottom in winter. Morgan describes' two 
kinds, the open stick dam, faced with mud on the up-stream 
side and through the top of which the water trickles all along; 
and the solid-bank dam which is of earth and has an overflow 
at one place, where it is reinforced with sticks. I take it that 
the latter is simply a very old dam in which the sticks have 
rotted away from the main structure, and which the grass and 
growing stuff have solidified into a green bank. 

'While this is in press I learn that his eflforts have been rewarded, and he is now 
the happy patriarch of a large community. 
^ Loc. ciL, pp. 84-5. 

454 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The process of building, as nearly as I can tell from having 
seen many dams in all stages of growth, is as follows : 

The Beaver and his wife first decide on the stream they 
propose to make into a pond — and it is always a small one, 
sometimes a mere spring. Morgan says^ there is no instance 
known of a dam made across a stream having a greater depth 
than two feet at the site of the structure when the water is at 
its lowest level. 

Next they select a place where the bed is hard clay or 
gravel, neither rock nor bog being desirable, and then begin 

Fig. 128 — Section of dam showing mud face up stream. 

the dam by cutting and laying quantities of brushwood length- 
wise in the deepest part of the stream bed, butts against the 
current. Each stick as it is laid is partly covered near the 
thick end with mud, stones, or clay to hold it down and the 
process carried on until the wall is raised, and would in 
sections be somewhat as shown in Fig. 128. But very rarely is 
a log used, and never a stake. By this time the original bed of 
the stream is blocked and the water flooding the shore calls 
for a still wider dam. At both wings it is spread, and here we 
see why the curvature against the stream is usually given. 

The force of the current, especially at high water, is such 
that a new formation not up stream is surely swept away, thus 
the only correct plan is forced on the Beaver. Exceptions 
occur, but there is generally an obvious explanation. Some 
log, root, stump, or hillock was there to suggest a different line 
and offer assistance in making it safe. 

Night by night the Beaver family works on the dam, piling 
up sticks and burying them in mud that is full of fibrous roots, 
or anchoring them down with stones of one to six pounds 

^ Ibtd., p. 105. 

Beaver 455 

weight. The mud is got in the handiest way, the nearest place, 
that is, by diving to the bottom of the pond just above the dam. 
This has a tendency to enlarge the pond, so that in most cases 
it is widest and deepest just above the dam. 

Thus it is seen that interlacing branches are the Beavers' 
safeguard against a washout, just as they are of human engi- 
neers who are forced to use wildwood material. 

The labour of the Beaver knows no end, no dam is ever perpet- 
finished or beyond need of repairs. Morgan remarks^" that vigil- 
"dams begin to decay as soon as they are deserted by the ''^'"' 
Beavers and quickly thereafter disappear," which is sur- 
prising, considering their solidity, but evidently true, for the 
eastern part of America abounds in beaver-meadows, that is, 
beaver-pond bottoms, yet it is very rarely indeed that one 
sees traces of the dams that made them. 

Two of my observations in contradiction of popular belief 
I was glad to have confirmed by Morgan: 

I St. Among the scores of dams examined I never saw 
anything of the nature of a stake; that is to say, the Beavers 
do not drive stakes. 

2d. Beavers rarely use logs. But once have I seen a 
log used. Morgan also mentions a case;'' it was i out of 63, 
and that he considered accidental, possibly even that the tree 
fell on the dam, as it was a tree that had been blown down, 
not felled by Beavers. 

It is easy to see how by perpetual work through generations 
the Beavers must in time turn the stick dam into the bank dam. 
For the sticks tend to decay and disappear except where re- 
placed to fortify the overflow, and the rest of the dam must 
settle into a solid grass-grown mass. 

The best opportunity I ever had to study Beaver work was 
in the Yellowstone Park in 1897. On Lost Creek, not far 
from Yancey's, where I stayed some months, was a family of 
Beavers with their usual contrivances to make a great pond of 
a very little stream. It was from this colony that Ellwood 

"•Am. Beaver, pp. 123-4. ''Ibid., p. no. 

456 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Hofer took the 3 Beavers sent to the National Zoo, and as 
nearly as we knew there were 4 more left in the pond. After 
spending two days with compass and measuring rod I pro- 
duced the accompanying plans ^^ of the Beaver's system of 
interior navigation (Fig. 129). The source of all the water 
was a spring or springs in the marsh above. This resulted in 
a tiny rill about 18 inches wide and averaging 3 inches deep 
across, and yet was so managed by this industrious family as 
to result in 13 ponds, the largest of which is 6 or 7 feet 
deep, 250 yards long, 80 yards wide, and covering about 3 

This is made by the great or central dam, which is doubt- 
less the oldest; for the aspens opposite were evidently the first 
to be cut away, the willows in the pond it makes are dead, the 
house is in its pond, and, finally, the fact of its superior size 
is some guarantee of its seniority. This dam is built largely 
of stone where it reaches the talus of the cliff, and entirely of 
mud and sticks where it runs into the marsh. During the first 
night of my visit the Beavers added a charred pole, 18 feet long 
and 5 inches thick — the only pole I saw used there. This 
dam is 301 feet long, 15 feet wide at base, 4 J feet high in the 
deepest place, measured to the bed of the stream just below 
the face; it contains between 100 and 200 tons of material. 
Such a structure must have taken years of labour and genera- 
tions of Beavers to produce. Twenty-four yards below this 
is the second dam, most happily, if unwittingly, placed to 
relieve the pressure on the first. 

Morgan describes" in detail dams which were 488 feet 
and 551 feet long. 

The highest dam he had knowledge of is "about ^^ 
feet long, 12 feet in vertical height, and with a slope of inter- 
laced poles on its lower face upward of 20 feet in length." ^* 

The largest dam, that is, the one which he is ''well assured 
is not surpassed in magnitude by any other Beaver dam in 
North America," " is 260 feet 10 inches long, 6 feet 2 inches 

"These I published in Recreation Mag., October, 1897, pp. 286-9. 

"Am. Beaver, pp. 129 and 122. ^* Ibid., p. 119. ^^ Ibid., pp. 99 and 97. 


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Beaver 457 

high, 1 8 feet wide at base; holding the water above it at 5 
feet higher than in the pool below. 

This dam must have contained about 250 tons of material. 

The dam which makes Beaver Lake in Yellowstone Park 
I believe is the longest ever recorded. I saw it from a distance, 
but had no opportunity of measuring it. General S. B. M. 
Young writes me that it is about 700 feet from end to end. 

Reference to the plan (Fig. 129) shows a great many little l/\nd- 
docks or landing places. These are short canals with raised places 
mud or sod wharfs at the end; these are either lookouts or 
sunning places. Usually there are paths leading away from 
them farther afield. They are found chiefly on the western 
side, as there is no food on the eastern bank. 

The dock seems to be the small beginning out of which 
grew what some consider the Beaver's most wonderful achieve- 
ment — the canal. 

The canals are quite as interesting as the dam; Morgan theca- 
considers them even stronger evidence of intelligence. He ' 
says:'" "In the excavation of artificial canals as a means for 
transporting their wood by water to their lodges, we discover, 
as it seems to me, the highest act of intelligence and knowledge 
performed by Beavers. Remarkable as the dam may well be 
considered, from its structure and objects, it scarcely surpasses, 
if it may be said to equal, these waterways, here called canals, 
which are excavated through the lowlands bordering their 
ponds for the purpose of reaching the hardwood, and of 
affording a channel for its transportation to their lodges. To 
conceive and execute such a design presupposes a more com- 
plicated and extended process of reasoning than that required 
for the construction of a dam; and, although a much simpler 
work to perform, when the thought was fully developed, it was 
far less to have been expected from a mute animal." Many 
canals in all stages of growth are shown on the plan (Fig. 129), 
but the largest and most interesting is the 70-footer, leading 

'" Ibid., p. 191. 

458 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

westward from the second pond. It is the highway to the 
feeding grounds; is about i8 inches deep up to the fork, be- 
yond which it is but 12 inches deep. It is clean cut with sharp, 
hard edges, and has a most artificial look. It ends abruptly at 
the foot of the bank, and then the path, sharply defined, continues 
on to the woods, 145 feet farther on and 30 feet higher up. 

Morgan describes and illustrates three good examples of 
canals found near Marquette, Mich. These are 365 feet, 523 
feet, and 579 feet long, respectively. All are 2 to 3 feet wide and 
have throughout about 18 inches of water. All lead from the 
residential pond to the feeding grounds (a, h and c, Fig. 131). 

{a) The first of these,^^ 365 feet long, reaches to the foot 
of a hill and then forks as shown. These forks are the re- 
markable feature of this; "their construction along the base 
of the high ground gives them a frontage upon the canal of 215 
feet of hardwood lands, thus affording to them along this 
extended line the great advantages of water transport for their 
cuttings. "^^ 

{h) The other two are remarkable, not only on account 
of their length, but because also of their locks. These are 
best illustrated in the 523-footer.^^ Each lock is a low dam 
making a foot rise in water level; over these the logs are 
dragged. While the main canal is supplied with water from 
the pond, the locks are fed with rain water gathered by the 
142-foot dam next the swamp. 

The 579-foot canaP" has the same general plan as the 
other, with two locks, but it adds an important feature, namely, 
a wing-dam set at such an angle into the river that it deflects 
water enough to keep the canal well filled. 

The longest canal I ever examined was a very old one at 
Gal Pond, near Wanakena,St. Lawrence County, Adirondacks, 
N. Y., August 4, 1908. It was 654 feet long, nearly 4 feet 
wide, and led from the pond to a grove of poplar and yellow 
birch. Although abandoned for fully fifty years it was very 
well marked and showed many Beaver cuttings. 

^^ Am., Beaver, p. 197. '^ /^^-^^ p. j^g. 

'^ Ibid., p. 196. =0 Ihid., p. 200. 

460 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

A second use for the canals is pointed out by Morgan. 
He found them cut across the neck of long points on the 
river, and even across long islands in the pond, "for the obvious 
purpose of saving distance in going around. "^^ 

In brief, then, these canals are among the most wonder- 
ful of all the Beaver's wonderful undertakings. They are 
the obvious result of a plan adhered to from the beginning. 
They are made at a cost of enormous labour extending 
over years, and are kept in repair only by unremitting atten- 
tion and toil. 

They are unquestionably made for the convenience of 
reaching the feeding-ground without a dangerous overland 
journey and to assist in the transportation of the heavier sticks 
used when storing winter food. That is to say, the canals 
are made for precisely the same reason as those made by 
man, for the easy transportation of passengers and freight. 

BURROWS The Beaver burrow or den is an older institution probably 
than either the lodge or the dam. It is made in a bank near 
deep water, and is very simple in plan; it has a single entrance, 
which is below water line under some tree, root, or over- 
hanging bank; it has a diameter of a foot or eighteen inches, 
a length of a dozen feet, and leads to a chamber just above 
the water line under a root or stump or clump of bushes, 
which strengthens and guards the roof, that is here made thin 
enough to admit air. 

A good typical example is shown (Fig. 132, p. 462); this 
is the uppermost burrow seen on b, Fig. 131. 

BANK In streams which have always plenty of water, and which 

therefore need not and indeed cannot be dammed, the Beaver 
elaborates the bank den or 'wash'" somewhat. On the 
Yellowstone, Morgan saw a number of these in 1862. *'The 
entrances or passageways often extend back twenty feet into 
the bank and each communicates with one or more under- 

" Ibid., p. 202. 

** "Wash," a corruption of the Ojibwa O-wazhe', Am. Beaver, p. 165. 


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Life-histories of Northern Animals 

— > tJLAVE 

FiG- 132 — Plan of a Beaver burrow. 
(From Morgan.) 

Fig. 133 — Ground- plan of a bank-lodge, 
(From Morgan.) 



Fig. 134 — Ground-plan of a more elaborate bank-lodge, showing the nearly straight 

wood entrance in dead water, and the Beaver entrance in the running stream. 

(From Morgan.) 

ground chambers, which are ahvays found near the surface."-' 
The individuals that Uve in these are called * Bank Beavers.' 
I saw numerous examples of their work on the Nyarling River, 
Mackenzie District, in June, 1907. 

In many cases their entrance is protected with a mass of 
sticks, which also is winter food. This pile is called a 'false 

A higher development of the false lodge is seen when it 
is made by a lake. Then there is no annual freshet to carry 
away the pile, so it grows yearly. 

Over the chamber in the bank is a thin place made to 
admit air. In the course of time this ventilator may give way, 

** Ihid., p. 159. . 

Beaver 463 

leaving the chamber dangerously exposed, and then the Beaver 
is seen, with true constructive ingenuity, repairing the ventila- 
tor with a pile of interlacing sticks. 

Then, as Morgan remarks:-^ "It is but a step from such 
a surface pile of sticks to a lodge with its chamber above 
ground, with the previous burrow as its entrance from the 
pond." A case which is precisely paralleled by the bank house 
of the Muskrat. 

The next step is the bank lodge, which has a complete bank 
ing of sticks around. I 
shown in Figs. 133 and 134.^' 

roofing of sticks around. Plans of two good examples are 

From the bank lodge the step is easy to the island lodge, 
and when the island is a mere upturned root or hummock, we 
reach the final and most specialized dwelling of the Beaver, 
the moated lodge in the pond. 

The great pond in the Lost Creek Series at Yancey's, 
Yellowstone Park, contained but one lodge; this was enormous. 
It looked 25 feet through and 5 feet high, but having no boat 
I could make no measurements. It is usual for Beavers 
to have several burrows as well as a lodge, but one side of 
this pond was rock, the other side level marsh, so these may 
have had no burrows, at least I saw no signs of them. 

A typical lodge is a rounded mass of sticks, and occasion- lodge 
ally stones; it is 20 feet across the base and 3 to 5 feet high, 
cemented with mud except on the outside, which is covered 
with naked sticks. 

It contains one circular chamber, which is about 2 feet 
high and 6 feet across. As a rule the lodge has a single cham- 
ber, and when two or more are found side by side there is no 
connection between them. They are, indeed, separate lodges 
accidentally touching. 

There are usually two entrances, rarely more; one abrupt, 
often winding, is the ordinary runway; and the other, quite 
" Ibid., p. 165. ^ Ibid., 153. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

straight, is for bringing in wood. They are 2 or 3 feet below 
water level on the outside, but open above water line inside — 
they are i| to 2 feet wide and 5 to 10 feet long. They are 
finished with mud, which is plastered smooth like the doorway 
of an adobe house. The floor is about 4 inches above water 
level, and covered with a solidified mass of mud and small 

Fig. 135 — The largest chip I saw at the Yancey Ponds (life size) ; many were 6 by i inch, but most were shorter. 

twigs. There is more or less dry grass or wood shavings for 
bedding. The only air is what comes through the walls or is 
accidentally brought in the fur of the inhabitants or incident- 
ally in their lungs. 



Closely connected with the building Instinct is the food 
Instinct of this animal. Its favourite diet in Canada is the 
bark of the poplar or quaking aspen, but It also eats the young 
bark and twigs of most of the hardwoods and in summer they 
add many kinds of vegetation, even berries, pond-lily roots, 
and marsh grass, and in winter the wood Itself; but never is 
known to eat any part of coniferous trees, although It cuts 
them down for building material.^® 

The cutting down of trees is one of the most amazing 
performances of the Beavers, so of course it has been much 
exaggerated In early accounts. Thus the statement that the 

2« lUd., p. 184. 

Beaver 465 

Beaver Is so skilful that it can always throw the tree toward 
the stream is quite misleading. It cuts first the trees on the 
margin and they always lean toward the stream, so must fall 
streamward. But later, when cutting farther afield, the trees 
as often go wrong as right. The work of felling is usually 
done by the pair with assistance at times from their grown-up 

Two Beavers can cut down a three-inch sapling In three 
minutes and a six-inch tree m an hour or two. Three are the 
most that have been seen working on the same tree at once. 

"With this number [says Morgan"] two nights at most 
would give ample time to fell a tree a foot in diameter." A 
party of surveyors in the Beaver country near Marquette 
** counted nineteen tree-falls which they heard in a single night 
between the hours of seven and twelve o'clock." ^^ 

The same observer gives the following interesting descrip- 
tion of the felling :^^ 

"When but two are engaged they work by turns, and 
alternately stand on the watch, as is the well-known practice 
of many animals while feeding or at work. When the tree 
begins to crackle, they desist from cutting, which they after- 
ward continue with caution until It begins to fall, when they 
plunge into the pond, usually, and wait concealed for a time, 
as if fearful that the crashing noise of the tree-fall might attract 
some enemy to the place. The next movement is to cut off 
the limbs, such as are from two to five and six inches In diame- 
ter, and reduce them to a proper length to be moved to the 
water and transported thence to the vicinity of their lodges, 
where they are sunk In a pile as their store of winter provisions. 
Upon this work the whole family engage with the most 
persevering industry, and follow It up night after night, until 
the work is accomplished. The greatest number of Beavers 
ever seen thus engaged by any of my informants was 9, while 
the usual number is much less." 

Similar testimony is given by Long in his "Expedition 
to the Rocky Mountains." 

^''Am. Beaver, p. 220. ^ Ibid., p. 221. ^ Ibid., pp. 172-3. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"Three Beavers [he says ^°] were seen cutting down a 
large cottonwood tree; when they had made considerable 
progress, one of them retired to a short distance and took his 
station in the water, looking steadfastly at the top of the tree. 
As soon as he perceived the top begin to move towards its fall, 
he gave notice of the danger to his companions, who were still 

Fig. 136 — A 5-inch aspen just fallen. 

at work gnawing at its base, by slapping his tail upon the 
surface of the water, and they immediately ran from the tree 
out of harm's way." 

Many times the tree goes the wrong way. This I have 
often seen, and frequently it has happened that some Beaver 
made a miscalculation and was killed by the fall of his own tree. 

The largest trunk I have ever seen cut down by Beavers 
was 14 inches in diameter, a poplar, but we have records of 
cottonwoods 20 and 24 inches, 30 inches, ^^ nearly 3 feet.^^ 
These, however, are exceptional; 3 to 8 inches is the usual run. 
At one Beaver cutting I counted 116 poplar stumps. There 
were six such places near the dam, but the largest stump of 
any was but 8 inches through. 

As an adjunct of work the Beavers sometimes raise a 
platform of mud around a tree. This enables them to reach 
up higher to a thinner place and cut it down more easily. 

'" Long's Exped., 1823, Vol. I, p. 464. This passage apparently by T. Say. 
** Morgan, Am. Beaver, p. 177. ^' Lewis and Clark, Longman's ed., p. 146. 

Beaver 467 

Like most of the rodents which do not hibernate, the stor. 
Beavers store up food for winter. All through the autumn 
they labour; the suitable trees next the bank are first attacked; 
if they fall into the water they are allowed to lie there, as it is 
easy to cut their branches later under the ice. If they fall 
on the land all the branches are cut off into pieces of a size 
possible to handle, that is to say, *'when 5 inches in diameter 
they are usually about a foot long, when 4 inches in diameter 
they are about a foot and a half long, and when 3 inches in 
diameter are about 2 feet long. Poles from i to 2 inches in 
diameter are often found 8, 10, or 12 feet in length, and also cut 
up into short lengths from a few feet to a few inches long." " 
They are brought to the lodge to be stored in two different 
ways. The heavier timbers are sunken in the bottom of the 
pond. How they are sunken is often discussed. I have heard 
men who should have known better say that the Beaver sucks 
all the air out of them to make them sink, or that the Beavers 
charm them and at your touch the charm is broken, they float 
up. The fact is that most green woods are nearly as heavy 
as water. If waterlogged they are heavier. The Beaver 
carries the green stick down to the bottom and partly buries 
it in the mud; very little holds it. In a week or so it is water- 
logged and lies there even if uncovered. If any one pulls at a 
piece of poplar, for example, just after it is sunken, it floats 
and will not stay down without weighting. These things I 
saw and proved to my own satisfaction on the Nyarling River, 
near Great Slave Lake, in June, 1907. 

The smaller branches are stored in a difl^erent way. In 
the water above Beaver lodges that are situated in a current 
is a pile of brushwood moored to the bottom and appar- 
ently not used for food. This Morgan considers is a safe 
storage place for the smaller twigs that might be carried away 
by the stream.'^ 

When utilizing these hoards the Beaver takes the piece 
into the lodge, eats the bark off and later adds the useless 
stick to the roof-tree or to the dam. 

" Am. Beaver, pp. 178-9. '* Ibid., p. 188. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 



While at work the fore-paws are used to hold sticks that 
are being cut up by the teeth, also to carry mud and stones. 
They push, pull, dig, and grapple with them — they use them, 
indeed, as hands. 

Long sticks are carried in the teeth, with the end over the 
Beaver's back if on land. Small logs are rolled by one or more 
Beavers pushing with their hands, their shoulders, their hips 
or their whole broadside. 


Being essentially sociable, the Beaver has many methods 
of communicating ideas. The first of these is the vocal. 
Young Beavers wail like a crying child. Older ones hiss in 
menace or utter a querulous "churr.'* When two meet in 

the pond I have several times seen 
them nibble each other's cheeks, at 
the same time uttering a chattering 
noise; I suppose it is a friendly salu- 

Another important means is the 
** splash " signal. While watching the 
Beavers at Yancey's I learned that 
at once, on discovering danger, each 
Beaver gives a great slap with its 
tail and dives; this is understood by 
all and repeated ^^' all as they dive. 
Among the hunters on the Nyar- 
ling River I found that it is considered the sign of a mortal 
wound if the Beaver dives without slapping. The sound of 
it on a quiet evening is very far-reaching; it is in fact two 
sounds, one a loud "slap" as of a paddle, followed at once by 
a deep hollow plunge, as though a ten-ton boulder had been 
dropped in the water. 

Fig. 137 — Succession of altitudes in diving, 


But there is another way which may be called the mud- 
pie telephone. The Beaver has, like birds, a cloaca or one 
orifice, urinal, genital, and anal combined; each (male or 
female) has close to this two pairs of glands. The large ones 

Fig. 138 — Feet of adult male Beaver (left side), taken near Fort Resolution, M. T., July u, 1907. 

Eleven-twelfths of life size. The figure in the right upper corner is the split nail of the 
second toe on hind-foot; it is twice natural size. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Fig. 139 — Life sketches of Beavers at work. 

are the 'barkstones' or castoreum glands, secreting castor 
corresponding, according to Dr. W. W. Ely,^^ to the preputial 
glands, and the smaller, the oil-stone, secreting a lubricant. 

The castor is a yellowish substance, commonly described 
as "strong smelling." Its odour certainly is peculiar, but it 
seems to me very faint. These two secretions are given off at 
will by the animal, usually while voiding urine or excrement, 

and are a most important 
though ill-comprehended 
method of intercommuni- 

A trapper named 
Prevost called the atten- 
tion of Audubon and 
Bachman^'' to a peculiar 
habit of the Beaver. " He 
said that when two Beaver 
lodges are in the vicinity of each other the animals proceed 
from one of them at night to a certain spot, deposit their cas- 
toreum, and then return to their lodge. The Beavers in the 
other lodge scenting this, repair to the same spot, cover it 
over with earth, and then make a similar deposit on the top. 
This operation is repeated by each party alternately until 
quite a mound is raised, sometimes to the height of four or 
five feet." 

Whatever the reason there can be no doubt that the smell 
of castoreum has a wonderful fascination for the Beaver, and is 
used almost universally by the trappers as a lure or charm to 
decoy the fur-bearer to its fate. 

Nor is this infatuation confined to Beavers, for most 
mammals respond to its dangerous attractions; and mixed 
with various other substances to Intensify It or make it more 
easy to handle. It forms a part of every trapper's stock In trade. 
This probably Is the broad, underlying Idea: the product 
of the gland varies with the age, sex, and condition of the indi- 
vidual. The next Beaver that passes can get light on these 

^° Am. Beaver, p. 301. ^" Quad. N. A., 1849, Vol. I, p. 353. 

Beaver 471 

things by study of the castor left in the Httle pile of mud; thus 
it serves as a means of spreading intelligence; in particular 
about sexual matters, hence its power. 

The old Beaver already mentioned as being on Big Dam 
Lake, east of Klppewa, left his castorized mud-pies on every 
promontory for miles, and thus proclaimed to all who under- 
stood what a very solitary miserable life was his, and how 
earnestly he did strive and pray to find a mate. 

We should expect such a sociable creature to show con- play 
siderable advancement in development of play, and even here 
it seems the " castor '* takes a prominent place. Morgan says :" 

"Occasionally they indulge themselves at play, for which 
a formal preparation is made. After selecting a suitable place 
upon dry ground near the pond or stream, they void their 
castoreum here and there upon the grass, and, in the musky 
atmosphere thus created, spend some hours at play or basking 
in the sun. The trappers call these playgrounds *Musk 
Bogs.' Two or three of them are often seen at play in the 
water — diving, swimming around, and ducking each other." 

The Beaver is a strict monogamist. The mating season life 
is February, and the pair make then and there a contract for beaver 
life. Gestation lasts about three months ; toward the end of that 
time the mother separates herself from her mate, that is, I 
suppose, compels him to move out and keep away, while she 
prepares for the brood in the old lodge by making a warm 
nest of dry grass, so at least say the trappers, but it is not very 
clear how the mother keeps the grass dry when she must swim 
under water with it. Harry V. Radford believes that the 
bedding is always of finely shredded wood. 

Here the young are born in the month of May; their eyes n-est 
are open from the first. 

They number 2 to 5. According to Morgan,'^ one William young 
Bass "found 8 young Beavers in a fcetal state in one female, 

^' Am. Beaver, p. 223. ^ Ibid., p. 221. 

472 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

and 8 young Beaver born also in a single lodge. He had also 
found 6 young ones a number of times and all the numbers 
below this down to a single young Beaver." 

At a month the young begin to eat solid food, and go 
abroad with the mother; and at six weeks are weaned; but 
they continue with their mother for a year longer at least. 

At 2 years they are old enough to mate, but are not fully 
grown till 2| years old. They live for 12 to 15 years. 

FATHER What little evidence there is goes to show that the male is 

a model parent. Naturally his duties are small, since he is not 
called on to nurse, feed, lead, or defend the young, but some 
fathers are considered models when they refrain from doing 
bodily harm to their offspring, and are especially admired if they 
keep away altogether while the young are helpless in the nest. 

YELLOW- The Beavers near Yancey's, in Yellowstone Park, have, 

STONE . . . . r 

PARK like most wild things there, realized the blessed peace of the 
Park. They came out soon after sundown while I watched 
them from a hide. I saw 4 swimming about at the same time. 
But only the biggest one seemed interested in repairing the 
dam, and he worked *'like a Beaver" the whole time, never 
passing the dam without adding something, and if he had 
nothing else would dive to the bottom for a handful of mud, 
and pound it into the dam wherever he fancied the water was 
running over. It never seemed to occur to him that the water 
must go over somewhere; so the work of stopping the supposed 
leak goes on indefinitely and the dam grows bigger. 

In menageries where they have given the Beaver the privi- 
lege of running water there is much complaint that in their 
insensate mania for stopping the overflow they block drains, 
etc., oblivious of the fact that but for benign and periodic human 
interference on their behalf, they would speedily bring on 
themselves a death by drowning. 

OUTCASTS Just as among Buffalo and Moose we have the lone bull 
that is more or less of an outcast, so in the Beaver world we 

Beaver 473 

have individuals, old males, that are outcasts or degenerates, 
either from choice or necessity. Many strange theories are 
brought forth by trappers and Indians to explain these. 
This much only is certain, they are outcasts and they are 

*'It is a curious fact [says Prevost, the trapper'"] that 
among the Beavers there are some that are lazy and will not 
work at all, either to assist in building lodges or dams, or to 
cut down wood for their winter stock. The industrious ones 
beat these idle fellows, and drive them away, sometimes 
cutting off part of their tails and otherwise injuring them. 
These 'Paresseux' [idlers] are more easily caught in traps 
than the others, and the trapper rarely misses one of them. 
They only dig a hole from the water running obliquely toward 
the surface of the ground twenty-five or thirty feet, from which 
they emerge, when hungry, to obtain food, returning to the same 
hole with the wood they procure, to eat the bark. 

**They never form dams, and are sometimes to the num- 
ber of 5 or 7 together; all are males. It is not at all improbable 
that these unfortunate fellows have, as is the case with the 
males of many species of animals, been engaged in fighting 
with others of their sex, and after having been conquered 
and driven away from the lodge, have become idlers from a 
kind of necessity. The working Beavers, on the contrary, 
associate, male, females, and young together." 

Near Kippewa, however, I knew of a solitary he-Beaver 
that did build a large dam in 1904. 

Morgan offers an explanation which at least puts the 
"sluggards" on a higher plane. These ''outcasts" [says 
he ^°] are probably such Beavers as, having lost their mates, 
refused afterward to pair, and led thenceforth solitary lives in 

In the far north the Wolverine is credited with being the EXEinEs 
most formidable enemy of the Beaver, but it is difficult to see 

'^ Quoted by Audubon and Bachman, Q. N. A., Vol. I, p. 352. 
" Am. Beaver, pp. 136-7. 

474 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

how it can harm them, Hving as they do in the water, where 
it is not especially at home. Doubtless the only chance is 
when the Beaver is ashore for material. The Fisher, the 
Bear, the Wolf, and the Lynx are also to be reckoned with at 
such a time, while the Otter is ever ready to satisfy its hunger 
with Beaver meat if no fish are at hand. 

The Muskrat is considered, at least by the Beaver, to be 
an enemy. It enters the Beaver pond as a sort of parasite 
and works mischief there, as elsewhere, by piercing the dam 
with its tunnel. The trappers generally maintain that a 
Beaver recognizes the Muskrat as a mischief-maker and kills 
it when the chance occurs. 

The coat of the Beaver seems to be infested with a trouble- 
some parasite; the captive specimens in Zoos may often be 
seen nibbling each other for a quarter of an hour at a time, 
apparently to give and get the joy of scratching on places not 
easily reached by the Beaver himself. 

In the plan of the Lost Creek or Yancey's Pond it will be 
seen that many of the short pathways end at ant-hills; these 
hills are the work of a small and wholly black ant that raises 
its mound a foot or so above the marsh. The Beavers may 
have sought these hillocks as lookout places, but there was 
evidence of their staying a long time, and I wonder if they 
did not go there for what is known in the west as a *'dry 
wash"; that is, to let the ants pick off the parasites. Pos- 
sibly, as noted already, the curious split or double nail on 
the second toe of the hind-foot is an adaptation for combating 

In this connection I may record an observation on the 
Beaver's method of dealing with another minor pest. 

The patriarch and chief toiler in the big pond near 
Yancey's, while attending strictly to business, was again and 
again pursued by the Brewer blackbirds that nested in the 
nearby swamp. They were very resentful birds, ready to 
annoy any creature that came near their home ground. With- 
out regard to law or order, again and again they united in a 
noisy mob to tease the old Beaver as he calmly swam across 

Beaver 475 

the pond. But the latter has found a simple way of dispersing 
the mob, that I would commend to the notice of our city- 
authorities. When tired of the annoyance he gives a flirt 
with his tail that sends up a shower of spray on his tormentors 
and drenches them so thoroughly they are glad to go back to 
the bushes and mind their own business. 

The intellisence of the Beaver has been much discussed, intel- 

_,, ... • 1 1 -11 LIGEXCE was a tmie when it was considered on a par with that 
of man, and tales marvellous and preposterous were told in 
verification. A reaction set in and it became generally ac- 
cepted that the Beaver, being in the Rabbit and Porcupine 
class, was of no heavier mental calibre than they. Now, 
thanks to such observers as Hearne and Morgan, we are reach- 
ing the true line and find it as usual in the middle of the 

While of a low, general mentality, the Beaver has a wonder- 
fully developed instinct for the building of dams and water- 
ways. A quickness to take advantage of little things and a 
ready adaptability to change of surrounding that in this 
special department puts it in the highest class of low animal 
intelligence. A case parallel with that of the ants indeed ; which, 
though so low in organization, have acquired extraordinarily 
complex instincts, whose history affords one of the most 
wonderful ** fairy tales of science." 

On the land the Beaver is but a poor traveller and in the speed. 
water it is not one of the swift swimmers. It seems to me to go 
no faster than a dog, and two miles an hour is, I should think, 
its fast speed. But Its diving power is remarkable. 

On Yellowstone Lake, August 5, 1897, I saw a Beaver a 
good quarter mile from shore; it dived and was seen no more. 
The water was like a mirror, so we should have seen it had it 
reappeared short of the land. 

The trappers generally credit the Beaver with power to 
swim a quarter of a mile without coming up to breathe, which 
implies that it can go fully 5 minutes without breathing. 

476 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

In swimming the Beaver relies on its hind-feet as paddles, 
the tail is used chiefly as a rudder, the fore feet are little em- 
sANiTA- Like all creatures that live in colonies and have elaborate 


homes, the Beaver has progressed well along the lines of sanita- 
tion. At all times the lodges are found scrupulously clean; 
for the owner invariably steps out of doors when prompted 
to void its ordure; the product is like a lot of fine chips and 
wood fibre of light colour. Curiously enough the dam is a 
favourite place for the deposit, perhaps on the principle that 
every little helps. 

DISEASE- Like others of our beasts, this species has its years of 

increase and decrease, and also is subject to diseases that are 
as yet not understood. Tanner says " of the Beaver on 
Upper Red River about 1800: 

" Some kind of distemper was prevailing among the animals 
which destroyed them in vast numbers. I found them dead and 
dying in the water, on the Ice, and on the land ; sometimes 
I found one that, having cut a tree half down, had died at Its 
roots; sometimes one who had drawn a stick of timber half 
way to his lodge was lying dead by his burden. Many of them 
which I opened were red and bloody about the heart. Those 
in large rivers and running water suff^ered less; almost all of 
those that lived in ponds and stagnant water died. Since that 
year the Beaver have never been so plentiful in the country of 
Red River and Hudson Bay as they used formerly to be." 

POPULAR In correction of several ancient errors. It Is well to re- 


ABOUT member that: 

BEAVERS 'jpj^g Beaver cannot and does not drive stakes. 

It never plasters the lodge with mud outside. All lodges 
are finished outside with sticks. 

It does not use its tail as a trowel. 

It does not suck the air out of sticks to make them stay 

" Quoted by Dr. E. Coues in Henry's Journal, p. 256. 

Beaver 477 

It does not cut or carry large logs or use them in the dam. 
When caught in a steel trap it does not deliberately ampu- 
tate the foot, but twists about and pulls until it is torn off. 

This animal has always been a staple of food and raiment uses 
to the natives of America. Its wonderful coat of fur is prime 
for half of the year, it is backed by a very strong skin, and is 
one of the peltries most highly prized. Trapping is carried 
on chiefly by means of the steel traps, but I do not here propose 
to detail the methods. Already they are too successful, and 
the harmless Beaver has disappeared from half its range and 
become comparatively scarce in the rest. 

At one time, the last quarter of the eighteenth century, 
about 150,000 skins were exported annually by the American 
Companies, besides which the Hudson's Bay Company marketed 
about 50,000 per annum. 

In 1 89 1 the American supply had dwindled to 11,693 and 
the Hudson's Bay Company's was 57,260, really a bad year 
for the Company, as in 1887 its export had been 102,745, and 
in 1 87 1 had reached 174,461. 

In 1905, the latest year for which I have complete figures, 
the Hudson's Bay Company's returns were 54,119. 

At the London Annual Fur Sales held at Lampson's, 
March, 1906, 8,414 Beaver were sold. The highest price 
reached was 62 shillings ($14.88) each, for 41 first-class black 
skins; 30 shillings i$'j.2o) to 35 shillings ($8.40) were ruling 
prices for first-class skins, from which they graded down to 
about 15 shillings ($3.60) for thirds. 

As a food supply the Beaver takes a prominent place. 
The flesh is good and the tail is considered a delicacy. In 
taste it is like "calf's head" with marrow dressing, is de- 
cidedly rich and heavy, but I thought it delicious eating. In 
a vast portion of the Mackenzie Valley the Beaver serves the 
Indians as the Buffalo did those of the Plains. It is their 
staff of life, it feeds and clothes them, as well as supplies the 
necessary peltry to barter with traders for other things desired. 
These tribes are very naturally known as the " Beaver Indians." 

478 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

RESTORA- But the tremendous slaughter of modern times and 
methods have told on the Beaver, the rapid shrinkage of the 
species in point of numbers has led, first, to laws restricting the 
killing, next to attempts at restocking depleted regions. 

The success of the latter is most encouraging. The 
Algonquin Park, in Ontario, is a famous illustration of this. 
So well have the protected Beavers prospered there that now 
their overflow is restocking the surrounding country. 

In Monroe County, Pennsylvania, the species has reap- 
peared and will probably continue to increase, as the colony is 
jealously guarded.^^ 

In the Adirondacks, once famous as Beaver country, 
then practically bereft of them, the good work of restoration 
goes on. Harry V. Radford took upon himself the onus of the 
enterprise. He sends me the following outline: 

"In 1904, at my request, the first Beaver appropriation 
bill (^500) was introduced in the New York Legislature. It 
became available the same year. That fall the Commission 
purchased 7 Beavers, 6 of which were successfully liberated 
the following spring. This year (1906) I obtained a second 
Beaver appropriation (;$ 1,000) from the Legislature, and the 
liberations will soon be resumed. A number of private citizens 
are co-operating with the State and liberating Beaver on their 
estates in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Beaver supply 
is rapidly multiplying, and there are at present perhaps 50, 
as against 6 or 8 of five years ago. Unquestionably, the Beaver 
restocking project is a complete success." ^^ 

Similar good news comes from western Quebec and many 
parts of the eastern country showing that men have fully 
awakened to the value and service of this remarkable fur- 
bearer, especially in the northern part of its range. 

There can be no doubt that the Beaver did more to open 
up Canada than any other creature or product. It was the 

*^ Rhoads, Mam. Penn. & N. Jersey, 1903, pp. 70-2. 

*^ln 1908 Radford estimated their number at 150. See N. Y. S. F. F. & G. 
Com., i2th Annual Rep., p. 417. 

Beaver 479 

pursuit of the Beaver that lured on the early explorers and that 
brought here the original colonists. It was Beaver fur that 
bought for white men the manufactures of Europe that were 
needed to make life tolerable when first our people took to the 
woods, and it is fitting indeed that this creature, the symbol of 
energy, peace, and industry, should be the emblem of the 
country for which it did so much. 

The Common House-mouse. 

Mus musculus Linn. 
(L. Mus, a mouse; L. musculus, diminutive of mus.) 

Mus musculus Linn., 1758, Syst. Nat. X ed., I, p. 62. 
Type Locality. — Sweden. 

French Canadian, la Souris domestique. 

The Family Muridce, or Mice, are small rodents with more 
or less naked tails covered with scaly skin, but not flattened 
above; not more than 3 grinders in lower jaw. 

The genus Mus (Linnaeus, 1758) contains the Old- 
World Mice and Rats, which are typical rodents, small in 
size, with large ears, small eyes, tail nearly as long as the 
body, naked or nearly so, tapering from base to tip, and covered 
with scales more or less in rings; no cheek pouches. Colour, 
dull black or grayish brown. But the teeth are the most 
important feature of this group. 

The formula is: 

T 1-1 1 3-3 C 

Inc. ; mol. ^^-^=16 

i-i 3-3 

The upper molars have tubercles in series of 3 across the 
crown of the tooth, instead of 2 in a series, as with the American 

The pattern will be better understood by means of the 
outlines in Fig. 140, which, however, are purely diagrammatic, 
varying in details, not only with each species, but with each 
individual and epoch in the life of that individual. 

The Common House-mouse has, in addition to the generic 
characters, the following: 
SIZE Length, 7 inches (178 mm.); tail, 3I inches (89 mm.); 

hind-foot, \\ inch (18 mm.); ear, \ inch long (13 mm.). 

The long, sharp nose also is a marked feature. 




The general colour is "mouse colour," that is, grayish colour 
brown above, shaded on the under parts into ashy, more or 
less tinged with yellowish. 

When compared with other Mice found in Manitoba, its 
gray colour above and below without a sharp edge to it any- 
where, and the absence of pure white combined with its large 

ears and its long, tapering 
naked tail, will be found 
sufficiently distinctive. 


This species ranges range, 
over the whole of the 
civilized world as a para- 
site or commensal of man- 
kind. Its first appearance 
about Carberry, Man., 
was in the fall of 1886, 
when I got some speci- 
mens out of a stack. 
Its chosen environment is a hole in the wall of a well- 
stocked pantry. 

It is not known whether the male parent takes any interest ^LATI^G 
in the young, or, indeed, whether or not the species pairs. 

It breeds without ceasing the whole year round. The 
period of gestation is probably 25 days. The young number 
5 or 6; they are weaned at about 2 weeks, and produce very 
soon, probably at the age of 2J months. So that in one year 
a pair of Mice could easily become 1,000, even allowing 
for considerable destruction by their enemies. 

Among the unexpected foes of this animal is the cuterebra 
or warble-fly. 

At Winnipeg, August 25, 1902, I was shown a Common 
Mouse infested with three of the large warbles or skin-grubs. 
The miserable little creature was nearly dead from exhaus- 

Fig. 140 — Upper diagram, left upper molars of genus 


Lower diagram, left upper molars of genus AIus. 

(Greatly enlarged.) 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

tlon and, indeed, died shortly after capture. On going to 
the house (of W. J. Ptolemy) I was able to examine and 
preserve the specimen; the parasites were still alive and very 
large. (See Fig. 141.) 


Most persons are surprised to hear of singing Mice. The 
first I met with was in my New York residence. Out of the 
black darkness of a cupboard at midnight came a prolonged 

squeaking, thrilling, 
and churring, sug- 
gestive of a canary's 
song, but of thinner 
and weaker quality. 
There could be no 
question that it was 
a 'singing Mouse.' 
Many such cases are 
on record. Some 
have been explained 
as the squeaking of 
a Mouse in pain 
from some internal 
disease, particularly 
of the vocal apparatus, but others have not, and there seems 
good reason for believing that House-mice, and indeed all 
Mice, will at times express their sense of well-being, in a series 
of complicated sounds that correspond in every way with the 
singing of birds. 

So far as known the Common Rat {Mus norvegicus) has 
not yet established itself in Manitoba. 

Fig. 141 — The diseased Mouse and one of its parasites. 
Both life size. 


Grasshopper-mouse, Calling-mouse, Short-tailed Deer- 
mouse, or Missouri Mole-mouse. 

Onychomys leucogaster (Wied). 

(Gr. Onychomys, from Onychos, a claw, and mys, a mouse, hence 'claw-mouse,' be- 
cause its claws are so large compared with those of other Mice; Gr. leucogaster, 
from leucos, white, and gaster, belly.) 

Hypudaus leucogaster WiED, 1 841, Reise, Nord. Amer., II, 

p. 99. 
Onychomys leucogaster Baird, 1857, Mam. N. A., p. 459. 
Type Locality. — Clark, Clark County, South Dakota. 

The genus Onychomys (Baird, 1857) comprises Mice 
which have the general form of Microtus combined with the 
colours of Peromyscus, the soles of the feet are densely furred 
and have only 4 (instead of 6) tubercles; the tail is less than 
half the head and body. The front claws and feet are highly 
developed for digging. 

I— I 2—'Z 

The teeth are: Inc. ; mol. ^^^ = 16 

In addition to these generic characters the Grasshopper- 
mouse has: 

Length, about 6^ inches (160 mm.); tail, if inches size 
(45 mm.); hind-foot, f inches (23 mm.). 

All above soft grayish-brown, sprinkled over with fine colour 
black hairs; on the sides and rump this shades into orange 
and buff, and ends abruptly against the creamy white of all the 
under parts; the colour is darkest on the lower back, but there 
is no dorsal band, as in Peromyscus; feet, white; tail, gray- 
brown above, white below, except on tip, which is all white. 


Fig. 142 — Skull and teeth of Onychomys leucogaster (Wied). 

1 to 5 of young; 6 and 7 of adult; i, skull and left under jaw from outside, twice natural size. Other figures 10 
times natural size. From Merriam, N. A. Fauna, 2, 1889, Biol. Survey, U. S. Dept. Agr. 


Grasshopper-mouse 485 

The whiskers and ring around eyes, blackish. The white of 
the cheeks meeting on the muzzle is a marked colour feature. 
When seen ahve it looks like a bob-tailed Deer-mouse, or 
a White-footed Meadow-mouse. 

Six races of this widespread species are recognized: 

leucogaster Wied, the typical form. 

hrevicaudus Merriam, smaller, with shorter tail and 

longer ears. 
longipes Merriam, a very large race, with long, slender 

albescens Merriam, a very pale race. 
melanophrys Merriam, like leucogaster^ but ears 

smaller, toes more furred, and black ring around 

eye accentuated. 
pallescens Merriam, a very large pale race, with long 

slender extremities. 

Some of these may be entitled to full specific rank. 


This appears to be a species of the eastern edge of the range 
plains, from Texas to Manitoba, the type locality being Fort 
Clark, Dakota. Dr. Coues found it^ in Red River Valley along 
the 49th parallel. Vernon Bailey reports- it at Bottineau, on 
the west slope of Turtle Mountain. At Carberry, on the first 
of June, 1884, I captured a supposed example. As it is a spe- 
cies of the Missouri River region, I should expect to find it in 
all the dry portions of the second prairie steppe of Manitoba. 
About Indian Head, Sask., it is abundant, as is proved by rec- 
ords and specimens in the Geological Survey Museum at 
Ottawa. The 4 which I examined are among these, although 
in the young or gray pelage they are clearly true leucogaster. 

' Field Notes, 49th Parallel, U. S. Geol. Surv. Bull., 3, Vol. IV, 1878, p. 546. 
* Rep. Cm. Mam. U. S. Dep. Agr., 1888, p. 443. 

486 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

popuLA At Clayton, New Mexico, I found its kinsman, arcticeps. 


SO abundant that I estimate its numbers at not less than 50 
to the acre in a favourite locality, though I suspect that this 
was a colony, and there may have been great areas without 
any of the kind. This may help to furnish a little light on the 
numbers of the present species. 

ENVIRON- Its chosen surroundings are dry, sunny hillocks on edges of 
thickets in open country. In Minnesota, Bailey found it common 
on hills and prairies living "in holes on the top of Indian mounds, 
in sides of banks, and in holes under debris among brush."' 

HOME- I have no evidence to show the home -range of the indi- 

RANGE '11 


VOICE The species seems unusually gifted, for its family, in the 

matter of voice. In my Yellowstone journal I find this note 
for June 28, 1897: ''Yancey's, Yellowstone Park. To-day, 
as I was sitting on an open sandy bank near the Yellowstone, 
I heard a prolonged, plaintive, squeaking call, repeated at 
intervals of four or five seconds. It seemed to come from a 
part of this bank, about thirty feet from where I sat. The 
calling ceased when I went to the place, but I found the bank 
honeycombed with mouse-holes of microtine style, and of 
about two-inch calibre. All about was open, sparsely grassed 
country. The sound was like that of a Calling-hare, but 
much higher pitched, and there was no Calling-hare ground 
within many miles; it certainly came from these holes. I 
have not yet found the cause of this crying, but doubtless it 
is the unknown habit of a well-known creature." 

The answer to my riddle I found in V. Bailey's notes* 
on a Grasshopper-mouse that he kept in captivity. " He settled 
one thing for me: that a squeaking cry which I heard at even- 
ings at Brown's Valley and once or twice at Duck Lake was 
made by this species. He has made the same sound several 
times. It is something like the cry of the Flying-squirrel." 

* Loc. cit., p. 442. * Ibid. 


Founded chiefly on paptrs by D. G. Elliot, C. Hart Merriara, E. A. Meams, V. Bailey, E. R. Warren, G. S. Miller, S. N. Rhoads. 
The map is provisional and diagrammatic, especially in the South. 

The species are: 

Onuchomys leucogasler (Wied.\ the conuDon species of the plains with 6 races, Onychomus arcticeps Rhoads, 

Onychomy} ruidosoc Stone and Rehn, Onychomys fuliginosui Merriam. 




488 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Its mating and breeding habits are entirely unknown. 

The powerful fore-feet and claws of this creature proclaim 
it a digger. Wherever I have met with it, and that was chiefly 
in New Mexico along the Canadian River, I found it frequent- 
ing little hillocks that were more or less honeycombed with 
tunnels which were i J to 2-inch calibre. In these complicated 
burrows I always found other inhabitants, especially the 
Kangaroo-mice {Perodipus). Whether the Onychomys was 
intruding itself on the Perodipus or the Perodipus on the 
Onychomys I could not determine. 

HABITS It is Strictly a ground and underground species, of noc- 

turnal habits, and is probably unable to climb at all. Bailey 
says in the article cited: "One which I kept in confinement 
was not full-grown when caught. From the first he did not 
show the least fear. He took food from my fingers when 
first offered and never attempted to bite. If not disturbed or 
very hungry he sleeps all day, and when waked up, gapes, 
stretches, and blinks some time before he gets fully awake, but 
is then lively for a time, though he does not seem to like the 
light, and if it is bright, keeps winking. In the evening he 
becomes lively and tries to get out, jumping and scratching at 
the sides of his cage and biting the wires of the front, but he 
never gnaws, and though he has been a week in a thin cigar- 
box, there is not a tooth mark on it. Sometimes he becomes 
crazy in his efforts to get out nights and jumps about with 
all his might, but usually, unless hungry, he is quiet and in- 
telligent." *' Though the weather was cool, they would not 
keep more than six hours without the hair loosening over the 
belly * * * probably insect food caused this tendency to early 

NON- Those that I saw in New Mexico were active all winter, 


NANT but I have no evidence on this point for the species in Manitoba. 
The probabilities are that it does not hibernate, but stores up 
food and continues alert under the grass and snow. 

Grasshopper-mouse 489 

The food habits of the captive specimen kept by Vernon food 
Bailey are the main evidence we have on this subject. It 
would eat any kind of meat and most kinds of insects: it was 
fond of cheese, cake, and cream. When hungry it would 
descend to seeds and grass and frogs. When Mice and 
birds were thrown in, it sprang on them with the ferocity of 
a professed carnivore; evidently it reckoned them on its list 
of lawful prey. But its chief and choicest food was insects, 
crickets preferred. Its appetite for these seemed insatiable. 
On September 22, in 4 hours it ate 30 large insects, chiefly 
grasshoppers and crickets; September 25 it ate 53 large in- 
sects, as before, in 12 hours and apparently would have eaten 
more if it had had them. From this it will be seen that it 
is well worthy of the name Grasshopper-mouse. 

"The only insects offered to him which he would not eat 
were ants, and a few in his box made him almost crazy." 

As a result of such food-habits, the excrement of this excre 

. . MENT 

Species is easily known by the remains of insects that it * 

These simple creatures are easily caught in any kind of trap- 
a trap with almost any kind of a bait. 

In New Mexico, where I collected a number of arcticeps 
in 1893, I usually found that the trapped ones had their eyes 
eaten out by their sorrowing relatives before I could get around 
in the morning. 


3 mchei 

Fig. 143— Tracks of Grasshopper-mouse or Calling-mouse, going towards right Sketched in 
Yellowstone Park, August i, 1897. (Life size.) 


The Arctic Deermouse, Tree-mouse, or Wood- • 


Peromyscus maniculatus arcttcus (Mearns). 

(Gr. Pera, a pouch; mys, a mouse; L. maniculatus, 'with little gloves,' on account 
of its white paws; L. arcHcus, expressing the far north habitat of the present 

Hesperomys maniculatus Wagner, 1845, Wiegmann's Arch, 
f. Naturg., XI, Bd. I, p. 148. 

Peromyscus maniculatus Bangs, 1898, Am. Nat., XXXII, p. 
496, July, 1898. 

Type Locality. — The Moravian Settlements on the north- 
east coast of Labrador. Probably Nain. 

Hesperomys leucopus arcticus Mearns, 1890, Bull. Am. Mus. 

Nat. Hist., II, p. 285. 
Peromyscus maniculatus arcticus Wilfred H. Osgood, in MSS. 

1908, considers this the type form of the group. 

Type Locality. — Fort Simpson, Mackenzie River at the 
junction of the Liard River. 

French Canadian, la Souris a patte blanche du 

Cree, Appecoosesh^ or Appek-kusis"^ (according to 
Sir John Richardson). 

Ah-pik'-wa-sees (according to the French Cree 
half-breeds on Athabaska River. Compare 
Ah-pik-wa-jees, their name for Bat. 

Yankton Sioux, Tis-pay-na. 

*F. B. A., 1829, Vol. I, p. 142. 

'Arctic Search Exped., 1851, Vol. II, p. 387. 


Arctic Deermouse 


The genus Peromyscus (Gloger, 1841) comprises Mice of 
about the size of a House-mouse, but distinguished by their 
cheek pouches and pecuHar upper molars, etc. (See Fig. 144.) 
They have large prominent eyes and ears, soft fur which 
is gray or brown above and white below; long tail, usually bi- 

Teeth: Inc. 




The immensely complicated synonomy of the group 
Peromyscus maniculatus is much less complicated than the 
relationships of the many 
subspecies that are sup- 
posed to belong to it. In 
the present state of our 
knowledge it is impos- 
sible to offer a satisfac- 
tory digest of the facts. 

Temperate North 
America, in general, is 
inhabitated by a wide- 
spread, highly plastic, 
long-tailed, white-footed 
Wood-mouse, called 
maniculatus. This Is split 
up into many intergra- 
dient forms, of which three find a meeting ground in 

These, according to W. H. Osgood, to whom I am in- 
debted for essential aid In treating the present species, are 
arcticus, nehrascensis, and batrdt. 

In addition to the generic characters a fairly typical 
specimen of arcticus taken at Winnipegosis, August, 30, 1904, 
has the following: 

Length, 7I inches (184 mm.); tail, 2>\ inches (82 mm.); size 
hind-foot, if inch (21 mm.). 

Fig. 144 — Upper diagram, left upper molars of genus 


Lower diagram, left upper molars of genus Miu. 

(Both greatly enlarged.) 

492 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

COLOUR Above, grayish fawn colour, clearest or strongest on 

cheeks and rump, with a broad (over J inch) band along spine 
from snout to hips, of darker gray sprinkled 
with blackish hairs ; under-fur every- 
where plumbeous, which is the colour also 
of hind legs on outer side. All below, 
FiG.i4s-HeadofDeermouse purc whltc j tall, blcolourcd sharply, pure 

showing the cheek pouches ,. |, . "Illl 1 

distended. Altogether the whitc bclow, browuish blacK aDOvc; a 

pouches contain 14 of the 

Ihtp-lfi^uit^^^TthrbLI slight tuft on end. 

River, May, ,907 g^^^g ^j|j^g . yQuug, slatcy above, and 

until nearly full grown. Our three races may be thus 
characterized : 

arcticus, as above; differs from the typical manicu- 
latus chiefly in its much shorter tail. It is a 
woodland form. Size: 7I; 3^; J inches. 

bairdi is smaller, much more slender than arcticus, 
and darker, having always a very dark or nearly 
black band down the back. It is a prairie form. 
Size: 5I; 2; | inches. 

nebrascensis differs from arcticus in being much 
paler, the buffy or yellow is very pure, especially 
on the hindquarters, and is greatly extended so 
that it covers nearly all the body, leaving little 
or no dark dorsal band. It is a Plains form. 
Size 6|; 2^^; if inches. 

When alive nebrascensis strikes one as a golden-brown 
mouse; bairdi as a black mouse; arcticus as a gray mouse. 

At Carberry Lgot specimens that were related toall three, but 
also some that were nearly true bairdi. Specimens from Kenora, 
Ingolf, Winnipeg, and Winnipegosis are almost typical arcticus.^ 


The northern Deermouse {arcticus) is generally distributed 
in north-eastern Manitoba, and is the dominant form in the 
Province. Its range is shown on Map No. 27. 

^ While this volume was in press Osgood's monograph of the genus Peromyscus 
appeared. This work makes it seem probable that true maniculalus is the form in 
north-eastern Manitoba. 


PeTom})scus maniculalus (Wagner") and its Northern Races. 
This map is founded chiefly on W. H. Osgood's admiralile map in X. A. Fauna Xo. 2S (pulilishcd while my article was in press). 
While following this as a whole, I have simplified it and added the type localities. Except in Canada, the areas of mtergradation are not 
indicated; where shown they are dotted. Some 35 races of maniculalus are recognized by Osgood. 
Those entering Canada are as follows: 

maniculalus nebrascensia kceni Mluralus 

arcticus arlemisiae hiilaeus holtisleri 

gracilis areas algidus eremus 

abielorum auslerus macrorhinus argentatus 



494 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ENVIRON- Its favourite surroundings are in or near timber or build- 


ings; any dry place where it can climb above ground seems to 
please it, and every settler's home and barn has a population 
of these Mice, except, perhaps, in some of the older regions 
where the imported House-mouse of Europe has arrived and 
driven the natives farther back. 

HOME- I have no positive evidence on the extent of its individual 

wanderings, but it is not known to migrate, so probably its 
life may be spent within one hundred feet of its den. 

t^^^'r^ It is much less abundant than the Meadow-mouse, but I 

DANCE ^ \ 

have commonly seen half-a-dozen killed every week in our 
one-roomed shanty without visibly reducing the numbers. I 
suppose that every barn near the woods has at least two pairs 
about it, and that every group of farm-buildings in Manitoba 
has a dozen pairs among its permanent population. 

sociABiL- Although many of this species are sometimes found together 


in a small locality, they are attracted by favourable conditions, 
not by each other's company. So far as I have seen, they do not 
nest in colonies, move in bodies, unite their efforts in any enter- 
prise, or otherwise profit by each other's company, so can scarcely 
be called sociable. One pair in each burrow or nest is the rule. 

INTER- The well-marked livery and long tail of the species are no 

NicA- doubt directive marks of importance. Its senses of smell, hear- 

^^°^ ing, and touch are acute and play an obscure but obvious part. 

The continuous whiskering of strange objects is suggestive of 

a highly developed system of whisker-touch, but the species 

seems to neglect nomeans of conveying its impressions to its kin. 

The peculiar signalling of Deermice is a subject to which 

my attention has been called by M. A. Walton, the Hermit.^ 

He considers that drumming with the feet is the chief means 

employed by the New England species. I have often seen the 


* A Hermit's Wild Friends, 1905, p. 122. 

Arctic Deermouse 495 

The Mouse beats on any near object, with the palm of one 
paw, so rapidly that it makes a drum-roll suggesting the call 
of the downy woodpecker, but extremely short and soft. I 
believe the Arctic Deermouse uses the same means of com- 
municating with its fellows. 

Vocal power also is well developed in the species. It has voice 
the usual variety of squeaks, and almost certainly a prolonged 
song like that attributed to hairdi, indeed, to all our animals 
in the Mouse and Squirrel groups. 

The tracks of the Deermouse are commonly to be seen on tracks 
the snow. They show the pairing of the feet that are char- 


t =>^ 

Fig. 146 — Tracks of Deermouse. (Running to left.) Note tail mark and pairing of front or smaller feet. 

acteristic of climbing animals. Sometimes they resemble the 
tracks of a sparrow, but the furrow left by the tail will dis- 
tinguish these (Fig. 146). 

This beautiful little creature is an expert climber, and its xest 
ideal nesting site is in some hollow log or tree well up from the 
ground. In the woods this means usually a woodpecker hole 
or some hollow heart that is reached only by a very small 
opening. I once found one in a deserted wren's nest in a 
stump. Around buildings it will use any kind of a cranny, 
high or low, and will often make a nest in some movable box 
or bundle within a few hours after it has been set down. The 
nest itself is an ambitious structure from three to eight inches 
in diameter, globular, completely roofed in, and entered by a 
self-closing doorway on one side. It is composed of straw, 
bark, and various native cottony plants, is very warm, and, 
like everything about this dainty little animal, shows a keen 
appreciation of the creature comforts of life. 

496 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This elaborate construction is amply justified by the facts 
that the nest is not a mere nursery. It is the home of the family 
the whole year round, and must be proof against rain, frost, 
and flood, as well as hidden from innumerable enemies. 

STORE- Not far from the home-den, and usually connected with 

it, is the storeroom filled with various seeds and grasses 
(never roots), for the Deermouse does not hibernate even in 
the coldest weather, and therefore lays up in times of plenty a 
store of food to last it through the evil days ahead. 

MATING All the evidence at hand goes to show that the Deer- 

mouse pairs; that usually the male helps his partner to pre- 
pare the nest and care for the young, but that there are cases 
in which the male abandons the female as soon as the joys of 
the mating season are banished by the responsibilities. 

Pairing takes place in late winter, and the two together 
construct the nest. 
GESTA- Gestation I find to be 23 days in the White-footed Deer- 

mouse of Connecticut; it is probably the same in this species. 
The earliest brood comes about April i, in Manitoba, and is 
succeeded by another every sixty days till snow time; thus a 
pair may have 4 litters in a season. 

The young are usually 4 or 5 in number, but 3 are often 
seen, especially for the first brood of a young mother; I once 
found 7 embryos in a mature female, though she had but 6 teats. 

When the nest is disturbed so that the mother runs out, 
she commonly carries ofl^ some or even all of her brood attached 
to her teats. This, however, is not her regular mode of carry- 
ing them about, but is rather due to the fact that the young 
when very sm.all attached themselves firmly to the teat, almost 
in marsupial style, and the mother has not time to disengage 
herself if suddenly driven forth. Most of the Deermice carry 
their young in the mouth, one at a time, when they move them, 
just as a cat does her kittens. 

Near Hamilton, Montana, on the evening of September 4, 
1902, I found in one of our horse panniers a Deermouse 


Arctic Deermouse 497 

{artemisice) with a family of 4 young. They were about ten 
days old, I should guess. One of them clung to her teat and 
was dragged about by her mother as she dodged among our 
packages. Eventually she ran off with it into the bushes. 
I put the others into the hole where she hid, and in due time 
she returned and cared for them. 

The young are blind till about two weeks old. As soon as 
they are able to take care of themselves, that is when two- 
thirds grown and about a month old, they quit the parental 
nest, and, obedient to a necessary instinct, scatter to live, for a 
time at least, a solitary life, leaving the parents free to set about 
the production of a new brood. Analogy would indicate that 
at the age of three or four months they begin to reproduce. 

The large black eyes, long whiskers, and expansive ears noc- 
all tell a story of adaptation to a life of dim light. The Deer- '^^'^"^'^ 
mouse is nocturnal. Very rarely, indeed, can one camp in the 
woods of Manitoba without finding signs next morning that 
Deermice have been about the camp, running over the 
sleepers, tickling their faces with their cold feet, and picking 
up such scraps as are left in reach. But one never sees the 
Deermouse while the sun is high, unless it has been disturbed 
in its retreat. 

In this it differs from the Meadow-mice. They come 
out at all times, but are screened in their tunnel runways, while 
the Deermouse seems to go where it will in the woods, high and 
low, untrammelled by a customary route and without any 
semblance of the runway habit, even when the ground is 
covered with snow. 

This Deermouse is essentially a nut-and-seed eater when food 
compared with the grass-eating Meadow-mice. As already 
recognized, is has highly developed the habit of storing up 
food for the winter. As the species does not hibernate, and 
cannot flourish on such coarse provender as will satisfy the 
Meadow-mice, it needs a great store of the finest food-stufi^s 
as well as a warm winter nest. 

498 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Richardson writes^ concerning the food habits of the form 
that he found of general distribution In the north: "It has a 
habit of making hoards of grain or httle pieces of fat, which 
I beUeve Is unknown to the European domestic Mouse; and 
what Is most singular, these hoards are not formed in the 
animal's retreats, but generally In a shoe left at the bedside, 
the pocket of a coat, a night-cap, a bag hung against the 
wall, or some similar place. It not infrequently happened 
that we found barley, which had been brought from a distant 
apartment and Introduced Into a drawer, through so small a 
chink that It was Impossible for the Mouse to gain access to 
Its store. The quantity laid up In a single night nearly equal- 
ling the bulk of the Mouse renders It possible that several 
individuals unite in their efforts to form it." 

ECO- In its native woods It is a harmless or even beneficial 

NOMIC ... . 11' 1 • 

VALUE Species, destroymg many noxious weeds and insects; but in 
storehouses, where sometimes It takes up its abode, it does 
a good deal of mischief by gnawing holes in bags to get at the 
supplies. However, Its numbers are never very great, so that 
the loss It causes is always very small. 

ENE- The owls, the smaller Weasels, the Short-tailed Shrew, 

the Striped-gopher, the Lynx, the Fox, and the hawks are 
perhaps the worst enemies of this species, and are here given 
In order of virulence. From the owls, Lynx, Fox, and hawks 
its escape Is Indoors or even underground, and to baffle the 
others I suppose It can at best slam the door In their faces by 
plugging the hole behind it. No doubt when the ogre goes off 
with Its babies It rejoices In Its own escape, forgets Its sorrow, 
and speedily consoles itself with a new family. 

^ F. B. A., 1829, I, pp. 142-3. 


XIX a. 

Prairie Deermouse, Baird Mouse, or White-footed 


Peromyscus maniculatus bairdi (Hoy and Kennicott). 

(bairdi, in honor of S. F. Baird.) 

Mus hairdii HoY and Kennicott, 1857, P^^. Off. Rep. for 

1856, p. 92. 
Peromyscus maniculatus hairdi Osgood, in MSS. 
Type Locality. — Northern Illinois. 


On p. 492 this race is compared with arcticus and suffi- 
ciently characterized for identification. 


This is a species of general distribution in the Upper range 
Mississippi Valley, and faunally south-western Manitoba is a 
part of that region. 

I collected five specimens at Carberry. Professor C. L. 
Herrick says^ the species is of "reasonably frequent occur- 
rence in the south-eastern part of Minnesota." V. Bailey 
found it" "common on the high prairie in the town of Traverse 
on the Dakota side of the valley," and also at Pembina, and 
caught a supposed specimen at Bottineau, on the west slope 
of Turtle Mountain. 

It is essentially an animal of high, dry prairies, and is the 
complement of the common Deermouse. They are closely 
related and much alike, but one is a robust forest form, and 
the other a slender prairie species. 

I have no evidence on the home-range of the individual, home- 
but analogy would argue that it cannot be more than 100 
yards radius. 

' Mam. Minn., 1892, p. 190. 
Rep. Om. U. S. Dep. Agr., 1888, p. 442. 


500 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

ABUN- The species is not common In the parts of Manitoba where 


I lived and trapped. During several years at Carberry I col- 
lected only five specimens. I should say indeed that the 
south-western prairies of the Province are the north-eastern 
fringe of its range. At Pembina it began to be more plentiful. 
V. Bailey not only found it common on the prairies there, in 
the summer of 1887, but adds that^ *'it seems to be about the 
only Mouse of economic importance. It lives near the grain 
fields and cuts down a small quantity near the edges. It cuts 
some grasses on dry ground for the seeds, but is not numerous 
enough to be of great importance." 

sociA- Like arcttcus, it is neither sociable nor gregarious; usually 

one pair of adults is all that are found in one burrow. 

Bailey observed^ that it lived in the same holes with the 
Grasshopper-mouse, but this may have been a sort of para- 
sitism on the part of the latter, as in New Mexico I found it 
similarly sharing the quarters of Perodipus. 

VOICE, Captive specimens kept by Kennicott had a soft, clear 

voice and used it but seldom.^ It is not known whether the 
creature drums with its toes as a means of inter-communication, 
but seemingly it has the song habit discovered already among 
other members of the group. 

SINGING The only evidence I have of this is an article contributed 

to the American Naturalist by W. O. Hiskey, of Minneapolis, 
Minn. He writes as follows:" 

"A communication in the Naturalist some time ago, in 
regard to ' Musical Mice,' prepared me for a phenomenon which 
recently came under my observation, which otherwise would 
have astonished me beyond conception. I was sitting, a few 
evenings since, not far from a half-opened closet door, when I 
was startled by a sound from the closet of such marvellous 
beauty that I at once asked my wife how Bobbie Burns (our 
canary) had found his way into the closet, and what could 
start him to singing such a queer and sweet song in the dark ? 

^ Loc. cit. * Loc. cit. "Quad. 111., 1857, p. 95. 

*Am. Nat., May, 1871, p. 171. 

Prairie Deermouse 501 

I procured a light and found it to be a mouse! He had filled 
an overshoe from a basket of popcorn which had been popped 
and placed in the closet in the morning. Whether this rare 
collection of food inspired him with song, I know not, but I 
had not the heart to disturb his corn, hoping to hear from him 
again. Last night his song renewed. I approached him with 
a subduced light and with great caution, and had the pleasure 
of seeing him sitting among his corn singing his beautiful solo. 
I observed him without interruption for ten minutes, not over 
four feet from him. His song was not a chirp, but a continuous 
song of musical tone, a kind o^ to-iL'it-to-ifce-woo-woo-wee-woOy 
quite varied in pitch. While I observed him I took for granted 
that he was a common House-mouse {Mus musculus), but 
when he sprang from the shoe to make his escape, he appeared 
Hke a Prairie-mouse [Peromyscus baircli], a species I had 
not, however, observed in-doors. I have thus far failed 
to secure this little rodent musician, but I shall continue to do 
all I can in the way of popcorn to entertain him, and if his 
marvellous voice gives him the pre-eminence in mousedom 
which he deserves, by the aid of natural selection, I shall pres- 
ently have a chorus of Mice."^ 

Before accepting all musical Mice as artists inspired to 
flights in the musical art, by a combination of talent, aesthetic 
impulse, and holy joy, we should remember that not a few 
cases have been explained away as mere outcries from con- 
tinued pain, and in some cases from diseased or defective 
breathing apparatus. 

Again I must refer to Kennicott, who knew this Mouse m.\ting 
well and studied it minutely — captive and free. The species 
pairs. "In spring," he says,^ "I have always found the old 
male living with the female and young; but during the summer 
I have sometimes observed the male leading a solitary life, and 
the females and young in burrows by themselves." 

**Not having on the prairies the shelter found by its bur- 
timber-loving cousins, in old stumps and trees, this species 

' See also Am. Nat., 1889, p. 481. * Loc. cil. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

digs and burrows. These are rather simple, with few or no side 
passages, and often with but one entrance, the depth and extent 
being variable, but never great. * * * jj^ cultivated fields the 
burrows are frequently dug at 'the roots of fruit trees.'" 
NESTING Out on the prairie it nests in any chance shelter afforded 

by a wisp of grass or straw, an overhanging bank, an overturned 
sod, or even a den underground, especially among the roots 


Fig. 147 — Nest of Prairie Deermouse, Carberry, Man., 18 
Seven doors of entrj- ; three blind tunnels. 


in a scrubby bank. These underground homes are dug by 
the Mouse itself and are very simple affairs, readily distin- 
guished from the tunnels of the Striped Ground-squirrel by 
the shortness, simplicity, and size. The Ground-squirrel 
makes a tunnel about i| inches in diameter, that of the Mouse 
is but I inch. 

In the summer of 1882 I saw and caught a Deermouse 
on a little prairie knoll near my shanty. It proves to have 
been hairdt. In October I dug open this knoll and found the 
nest of which the plan is here shown. It was about six inches 
from the surface. The chamber was lined with soft, dry grass, 
but was quite empty. As the tunnels were too small for the 
Striped Ground-squirrel, and hairdi the only Mouse ever 
seen about that spot, I assume this to have been the den 
of the latter species. It is shown in the accompanying 
illustration (Fig. 147). 

The young, as with arcticus, are produced in a succession 
of three or four broods between snow and snow. 

Prairie Deermouse 503 

They number 5 or 6, 5 being the usual Htter of an adult young 
mother. In their growth and development they present no 
very obvious difference to the young of arcticus. 

Some of these Mice were kept captive by Kennicott, who 
says: *'I placed a female with 5 young, but a few days old, in 
a cage, and observing that 6 of the mother's mammae had been 
sucked, I placed another, taken from a younger litter, with her, 
which, to my surprise, she adopted; and several weeks after- 
ward, they having in the meanwhile taken a journey of many 
miles, I heard that this interesting little family, including the 
changeling, were all alive and well. This old female constructed 
the usual globular nest of the cotton and grass placed in the 
cage; and, upon looking into this, I found the young attached 
to her teats in every instance, except when I examined im- 
mediately after she had been out to eat, and before they had 
resumed their accustomed places. It is only when they are 
quite small, however, that the young remain so constantly 
attached to the mammae." 

This pleasant picture, unfortunately, is clouded by the 
disagreeable thought that these Mice are cannibal even to the 
extent of eating their own young when not furnished with 
flesh meat. 

As soon as they are able to take care of themselves, that is 
when about a month or six weeks old, the young scatter from 
the home-nest, leaving mother and father ( t) to live for a time 
each the life of a young recluse. 

The Baird Mouse is strictly nocturnal, and, indeed, is in strict- 
all its habits an ordinary Deermouse that has adapted itself J°J;^.^ 
to prairie life. 

Its food is briefly every kind of seed and nut found on the food 
prairies, doubtless also insects, birds' eggs, and flesh, when 
obtainable, and failing all these, it can live on herbage and 

The carnivorous record given by Kennicott is rather 

504 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"On one occasion [he says*^] I captured a pair with 5 
young, and placed them all in a cage well supplied with vari- 
ous kinds of vegetables and grain. The next day several of 
the young were killed and eaten, and in two or three days they 
had all disappeared. Shortly afterwards the male, which had 
been slightly injured, was found dead, and partly devoured by 
his rapacious spouse. After this I fed my specimens with meat 
as well as grain, which they ate, and, as long as they were 
supplied with it, they lived together harmless; but no sooner 
was this withheld, than the old ones, both male and female, 
devoured their young. Though all are more or less carnivor- 
ous, they are not generally so bloodthirsty as to devour each 
other of their young when not supplied with flesh.'* 

Bailey says of those that he observed near Pembina:^" 
"I think it eats the seed of pennycress {Thlaspi arvense), 
which has become so thick that in some fields nothing else can 
grow.'* Besides this he found these Mice cutting down grain 
and grass for the seeds. 
ECO- Thus it is shown to do a little mischief to the crops by 

VALUE cutting them down and about an equal amount of good by 
destroying a troublesome weed. 

STOR- It has the storage habit well developed, as it does not 

hibernate, but, like others of its family, is active in all seasons 
and weathers. Kennicott points out that it collects seeds, but 
never roots. A mouse nest with a store of roots is likely to 
be that of a Microtus but not of a Peromyscus. 

" Quad. 111., 1857, p. 94. 

1° Rep. Cm. U. S. Dep. Agr. (for 1887), 1888, p. 442. 

XIX b. 

Nebraska Deermouse. 

Peromyscus maniculatus nebrascensis (Mearns). 
(L. nebrascensis, of Nebraska.) 

Hesperomys leucopus nebrascensis Mearns, 1890, Bull. Am. 

Mus. Nat. Hist., II, pp. 285 and 287. 
Peromyscus maniculatus nebrascensis Osgood, in MSS. 
Type Locality. — Calf Creek, central Montana. 

On page 492 this race is compared with arcticus and 
bairdi and sufficiently characterized for identification. 

As my Manitoba specimens are not typical of this form, 
and my notes but brief and inconclusive, I shall pass it with the 
general statement that in habits it is a Deermouse that has 
taken to life in the open and semi-arid Plains. 




Canadian Red-backed Vole, Red Wood-vole, or 
Gapper Mouse, Long-eared Ground-mouse. 

Evotomys gap peri (Vigors). 

(Evotomys, from Gr. ev, well ; otos, ear ; mys, mouse, a name given to tBe genus 
by Dr. E. Coues in 1874, on account of the 'well-developed ears' when com- 
pared with Microtiis; gappdri in honour of Anthony Gapper, who collected the 
first specimen known to science. He found it on his brother's farm near Lake 
Simcoe and sent it to Vigors, who described and named it in 1830.) 

Arvicola gapperi ViGORS, 1 830, Zool. Journ., V, p. 204. 
Evotomys gapperi Merriam, 1 891, N. A. Fauna, No. 5, p. 119. 
Type Locality. — Near Lake Simcoe, Ontario. 

French Canadian, le Campagnol rouge. 

The genus£^'o?omJyi■,(Coues, 1874) comprises Meadow-mice 
much Hke those in the genus Microtus, but readily distinguished 
by their large ears^ longer tails, and red back. (See Plate 
XXXIX, Fig. a.) 

The tooth formula is as in Microtus , though there are many 
minor differences in the teeth. 

The Gapper Mouse, in addition to its generic characters, 
has the following: 

Length, 5I inches (146 mm.); tail, i| inches (38 mm.); 
hind-foot, | inch (19 mm.). 

COLOUR General colour of the body a buffy or pale ochraceous; 

the broad band along the back from crown to tail, chestnut, 
streaked with black hairs; under parts, pale buff; feet, gray; 
tail, brownish above, gray buff below, tip black. In summer, 

Usually the male has on each flank a gland marked by 
a pale patch, of fur. 



a. Evolomys gapperi alhabasca Preble. b. Microltis pennsylvanicus drummondi (Bach.). 

c. Microlus minor (Merriam). d. Synaplomys borealis (Rich.). 

From specimens in collection of Biol. Sun-cy. 
(.\ll are life size.) 

(All North American species included.) 

This map is diaRramTiatic. Actual records are spotted ior g^n/i/xri on\\. 

These are chiefly from Vernon Bailey's " Revision " of the Genus, with others by E. A. Preble, D. G. Elliot, S. N. Rhoads, O. Bangs, 

C. Hart Merriam, E. k. Warren, G. S. .Miller, E. T. Seton. 
The following are entered : 

Eoolomys gapperi (Vigors) and its 8 races, 

Evotomys caurinus Bailey, 

Eoolomys wrangeli Bailey, 

Ecolomys Jaasoni Merriam with its 2 races, 

Eootomi/a orcc Merriam, 

Evolomys brcvicauJus Merriam, 
Eoolomyi carolinensis Merriam, 
Evolomys ungai'a Bailey, 
Eoolomys idahoensis Merriam, 
Evolomus mazama Merriam, 


Eoolomys obscurus Merriam, 
Eoolomys californicus Merriam, 
Evolomys occidenlalis Merriam, 
Evolomys nioarius Bailey, 
Eoolomys proleus Bangs. 

508 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

This species is dichromatic, that is, it appears in two 
colourations, one the normal, as above, the other the dark 
"freak," much grayer in general and the back stripe sooty, 
instead of red. 

The slender form, long tail, rufous-tipped ears and bright 
colours of the animal will distinguish it from the neighbour- 
ing species. 

The following races are recognized: 

gapperi Vigors, the typical form. 
ochraceus Miller, larger and duller-coloured. 
rhoadsi Stone, like gapperi, but darker-coloured, with 

shorter tail and larger hind-foot. 
athahascce Preble; size of gapperi, with lower parts 

lighter and face grayer. 
loringi Bailey, a very small, bright-coloured form. 
galei Merriam, like gapperi, but paler, and with 

longer tail. 
saturatus Rhoads, larger, and longer-tailed than 



RANGE The Gapper Mouse, originally described from Yonge 

Street, north of Toronto, Ont., has been found in graded 
forms across the Continent to British Columbia. I got speci- 
mens at Kenora, Winnipeg, and Carberry. E. A. Preble also 
found it^ "rather common throughout the region between 
Norway House and Hudson's Bay." Kennicott took a few 
along Red River.^ Coues, in his Monograph of Muridae, 
records^ it from Minnesota. Agassiz brought three specimens 
from Lake Superior.^ Bailey records^ others from various 
parts in Minnesota and Dakota, including Pembina. Thus 
all of Manitoba falls within the proper range of this Mouse. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, pp. 50-1. 

* Quad. III., Pat. Off. Rep. (for 1857), 1858, p. 89. 

' Monogr. Rod. Muridae, U. S. Geol. Sur. Ten, 1877, p. 145. 

* Ibid. = Rep. Cm. U. S. Dep. Agr. (for 1887), 1888, p. 444. 

Red-backed Vole 509 

The specimens from Portland, N. D., prove to be of the 
well-marked sub-species," loringi. Pembina and Carberry 
specimens are, according to Bailey, intermediate between 
loringi and the type. Kenora and Norway House specimens, 
on the other hand, are true gapperi, so that we may consider 
the habits of all the Manitoba Red-backed Voles under one 

This species is a Meadow-mouse that has taken to the en- 

• -1 J 1 J L f VIRON- 

woods, abandonmg at the same time the mud-coloured hue or ment 
Microtus for the rich chestnut-reddish that harmonizes admir- 
ably with the dead leaves that carpet its home-land. In 
Keewatin Preble found ^ that " Mossy spruce woods seemed to 
be their favourite habitat, but we also frequently trapped them 
in deciduous or mixed woods, and occasionally in willow 
thickets or swamps." 

The only evidences I have on the home-range of the home- 

..... UUM'" RANGE 

species are those of analogy among its kindred, probabilities, 
and the fact that I have found it living in very small isolated 
clumps of timber, all of which tends to prove a very small 
home locality for each individual, less, I imagine, than one 
hundred feet across. Evidence pointing to a very different 
conclusion, however, is cited in the paragraph on drink. 

This animal is much less abundant than the Common abun-^ 
Meadow-mouse or Microtus. Even in the most favoured 
localities its number cannot be one-tenth of those of the 
Meadow-mouse. Along the heavily timbered bottomlands at 
Breckenridge, Minn., Kennicott found it' more numerous 
than any other mammal in an equal area, except Microtus 
austerus, in northern Illinois. He considered it rare at Lati- 
tude 50 degrees on the Red River, and at Carberry I did not 
see more than three or four each year. Since it is a woodland 
species, it is decreasing with the clearing of the forests. 

« Proc. Biol. Soc, Washington, May 13, 1897, p. 125. 

^ N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, p. 51. 

« Quad. 111., Pat. Off. Rep. (for 1857), 1858, p. 90. 

510 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

sociA- Though often found in numbers together, the Mice of this 


group are not, strictly speaking, sociable, since they do not 

seem to combine their efforts for a common purpose or profit 

by each other's society. 
COM- It is a remarkably silent species. Kennicott says^ 

GATING, that he did not at any time hear this Mouse utter sounds, as 
^^^' the Microtus austerus does, whenever several are feeding 

together, nor did it make any cry when caught. 

BURROWS It does not make the over-ground, under-grass runways, 
so characteristic of the true Meadow-mice. Continual use 
may occasionally give visible shape to the pathway near its 
nest, but ordinarily it scampers about on the floor of the forest 
as freely as a tiny Deer. 

NEST From all accounts the nest is usually placed in a super- 

ficial burrow. Though it is sometimes found on the top of the 
ground, under or in logs, stumps, or moss. Kennicott found 
one *'in the rotten stub of a tree several feet from the ground."^" 
Usually it is lined with grass and other soft material. 

BREED- Regarding the mating, we know little beyond the fact that 

it attends to these duties at the earliest opportunity, with 
assiduity that is worthy of the indefatigable and fecund family 
to which it belongs. 

Nothing is known of the period of gestation for this, or, so far 
as I can learn, for any other of our Meadow-mice. Millais gives^^ 
the gestation of the British species (£. glareolus) at 28 days. 

The evidence is that it breeds as soon as the snow is well 
gone in spring, though why it should wait is not obvious, as it 
is active all winter under the snow, and just as warm probably 
as later. 

YOUNG The species is very prolific. Kennicott*^ found 8 young 

in a nest, and within several rods of this a family of 5 or 6, 

« Ibid., p. 89. " Ibid., p. 89. 

"Mam. Gr. Br. & Ire., Vol. II, 1905, p. 246. ^^ Ibid., p. 90. 

Red-backed Vole 511 

probably a month or two older, which he concluded to be an 
earlier litter of the same parent. 

Merriam records:^' "I have shot females each containing 
4 young as early as the 3rd of April and as late as the 4th of 
October. I have also taken a female early in June that was 
nursing her second brood. Hence it is clear that several 
litters are produced each season." To this I may add that at 
Carberry, September 22, 1884, I caught a Red-backed Vole 
within a few days of bringing forth young. It is quite likely 
that the young of the early litters are hard at work contributing 
to the population before their first winter. 

This Mouse differs from the rest of the ground Mice in habits 
several important particulars. Its habits are rather like those 
of the Deermice. It climbs about logs and up low stumps 
with facility, and is sometimes seen living in old buildings, and, 
although a wildwood species, it often takes up its abode with 
civilized man, just as the Deermouse habitually does, and just 
as the Meadow-mouse does not. 

Most of its kin are nocturnal, but this species is largely diur- 
if not chiefly diurnal. Kennicott ^^ "was particularly struck 
with their diurnal habits. Not only were they active during 
the day, but they appeared to seclude themselves strictly after 
dark. I caught them readily in traps, in the day, but never 
at night, nor were they seen in the evening, as would have been 
the case had they been crepuscular." Merriam considers this 
Mouse both diurnal and nocturnal. He says:'^ "I have 
shot it at noonday scampering over the leaves in the deep 
woods, and dodging in and out between the rocks of a lake 
shore. I have also seen it after dark in shanties and log 
houses, and have caught many during the night in traps." 

In food habits it is omnivorous, like its kin, but is a cleaner food 
feeder than most and shows little of the carnivorous propensity. 

" Mam. Adir, 1884, p. 272. " Quad. 111., 1858, p. 89. 

" Mara. Adir., 1884, p. 271. 

512 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Merriam says ^^ it feeds "upon beechnuts and a variety of 
seeds, berries, and roots, and also, at certain times in the 
winter season, upon the bark of shrubs and trees. The beech, 
maple, ash, and bass suffer most severely from its attacks and 
in the order named. The bark is generally removed in ir- 
regular areas from the large roots just above the ground, but 
sometimes saplings and even trees a foot or more in diameter 
are completely girdled to the height of three or four feet." 

Like all of its order that do not hibernate, it lays up stores 
of roots and nuts and seeds for winter consumption. 
DRINK A curious case which seems to show that these Mice are 

in the habit of travelling a long way for water is thus recorded 
by Kennicott: ''Though I collected several specimens of this 
species, together with a great number of Zapus hudsonius 
drowned in a hole a half mile from the woods, I saw none on 
the prairie at any other time; whence it is inferred that they are 
generally confined to the woods." ^^ 

ON THE Although, as we have seen, it can and does climb a little, 

GROUND . . , ° , , J ,Tj,, . ^ 

It is at home only on the ground. When at its fastest pace it 
goes at a steady trot, not bounding like a Deermouse. This 
difference of progress is exactly paralleled among small birds, 
and for the same reasons. The Shore-lark and such ground 
birds are steppers; the sparrows and tree birds are hoppers. 
I have no drawing of the trail to illustrate this species, but 
it undoubtedly is much like that of the Microtus, which see. 

ENEMIES Its enemies are all living creatures; for those that do not 

eat it, eat its food, or destroy its shelter, and so crowd it out. 

RELA- As this is a woodland species disappearing; with the forest, it 

TION TO . . . ... 

MAN has but little bearing on agriculture. The only mischief it em- 
barks in is the girdling of forest trees, and this has never yet been 
observed on a scale large enough to be serious. Merriam re- 
marks that its flesh "is tender and well-flavoured," which state- 
ment the lovers of wild meat may construe into a gentle hint. 

'" Ibid. >' Quad., 111., 1858, p. 90. 

XX a. 
Prairie Red-backed Vole. 

Evotomys gap pert loringi Bailey. 

Qoringi, in honour of J. Alden Loring, who collected the type specimen at Portland, 
North Dakota, November 22, 1895.) 

Evotomys gapperi loringi Bailey, iSgy^Proc. Biol. Soc.Wash., 
May 13, 1897, p. 125. 

Type Locality. — Portland, North Dakota. 

This race of the Gapper Mouse differs from the typical 
form chiefly in its smaller, slenderer skull, and in being much 
smaller and brighter coloured. It is, indeed, the smallest known 
Evotomys in North America. 

The average of i8 adults from the type locality gave the 
following measurements: 

Length, 4I inches (123 mm.); tail, i\ inches (31.5 mm.); size 
hind-foot, H inch (17.9 mm.); the tail being about \ of total 

^'FuU winter pelage: Dorsal stripe sharply defined, extend- colour 
ing from anterior base of ears back between ears to rump, pale 
reddish hazel, scarcely darkened with black hairs and frosted 
from the presence of a white subterminal zone. In some 
specimens with the maximum of white the back is fairly hoary, 
in others the chestnut predominates and conceals the white 
zone. Face, sides, and rump, bright grayish ash, more or less 
washed with buffy; belly pure white or rarely creamy white; 
ears pale chestnut; feet pure white; tail sharply bicolor, whitish 
below, blackish brown above; pencil black above, a few white 
hairs below. Adult males with large whitish or light grayish 
spots over the side glands. Summer pelage: Dorsal stripe dark, 
rich chestnut; sides and face pale bister, more or less suffused 
with yellowish; belly thinly washed with white or whitish; feet 


514 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

dusky; tail darker and less sharply bicolor; ears brownish; 
side spots in old males sooty gray. Toung slightly darker 
than adults." {Bailey.^) 

Carberry and Pembina specimens prove to be intermedi- 
ate but nearer loringi than gapperi; Turtle Mountain examples 
should be true loringi. 


This is a prairie race; it is found in the wooded valleys 
of western Minnesota, eastern South Dakota, eastern North 
Dakota and south-western Manitoba, as shown on Map 28. 

As there is no reason to suppose its habits are different 
from those of true gapperi, the preceding chapter may be con- 
sidered as applying to both. 

* Revision, genus Evotomys. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., May 13, 1897, pp. 125-6. 


Drummond Vole, Common Meadow-mouse, Vole or 
Ground -mouse of Manitoba, Marsh-mouse or 
Brown Vole. 

Microtus pennsylvanicus drummondi (Aud. and Bach.). 

(Gr. Micros, small; oliis, ear; drummondi, in honour of Thomas Drummond, of 
Forfar, Scotland, who accompanied Sir John Franklin on his 1825 Expedition as 
naturalist, and collected the type of this sub-species.) 

Mus pennsylvanica Ord., 181 5, Guthrie Geog., 2nd Amer. 

ed., II, p. 292. 
Microtus pennsylvanicus Rhoads, 1895, Amer. Nat. XXIX, 

p. 940. 
Type Locality. — Meadows below Philadelphia, Penna. 

Arvicola drummondii AuD. and Bach., 1854, Quad. N. A., 

Ill, p. 166. 
Microtus drummondi Trouessart, 1897, Cat. Mam., Pt. Ill, 

P- 5^3- 
Type Locality. — Probably near Jasper House, Alta. 

French Canadian, le Campagnol de Drummond. 

Cree, Wah-wah-be-gah-nof-see. (Applied to all Mice.) 
Tweedell gives it " fFah-be-gah-not'-see." 

Sauteau, Wah-be-gah-ndt'-see. 

OjiB., Ah-me'-ko W ah-wah-be-gah-nof-see (= Beaver- 
mouse.) When Aneemeekong was asked for a 
fuller explanation of the name he replied, "know 
nothing, act like children, and steal." 

Chipewyan, Kloon'-ay. 


516 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The sub-family Microtincs includes all our Short-tailed 
Meadow-mice or Voles, the Lemmings, and the Muskrats. 
All have the same dental formula : 

Inc. ^; mol. — = i6 

It comprises 7 genera. Their external characters as here 
set forth will answer for a key: 

Microtus Schrank, 1798. The common Meadow- 
mice or Voles in a coat of dark brown, with 
pepper-and-salt effect on back, but paler and 
grayer below; tail i^ to 2| times as long as 
hind-foot. Molars not rooted, but from persist- 
ent pulp. 

P/?^nflcom3?i- Merriam, 1889. Is like M/rrofwj-. When 
adult it has molars with prong-like roots and 
with reentrant angles deeper on inner than on 
outer side; unfortunately these, though impor- 
tant, are characters of little use to the field 
naturalist. Hind-foot, 6-tuberculate, the outer 
tubercle large and prominent, while in Microtus 
it is nearly obsolete. 

Synaptomys Baird, 1857. Much like a Microtus, with 
a very short tail, shorter than hind-foot, and with 
upper incisors grooved on outer edge; in Microtus 
they are smooth. 

Lemmus Link, 1795. Like a Microtus, with soft, 
woolly fur, and very short tail, shorter than hind- 
foot; the thumb has a flat strap-like nail', the 
outer ear is well developed. 

Dicrostonyx Gloger, 184 1. Like Microtus, but with 
tail a mere stub, much shorter than the hind- 
foot. Outer ear rudimentary. The thumb ap- 
parently wanting or a mere rudiment with a pm- 
point nail; the two middle claws of the front 
feet develop enormously and become two snow 

Drummond Vole 517 

shovels for winter use; the winter coat is white. 

These animals are found only in the Arctic 

Evotomys Coues, 1874. Like Microtus, but with red 

back and well-developed ears. 
Fiber F. Cuvier, 1800. The Muskrats are known at 

once by their great size, brown fur and fiaty 

blade-like, scaly tail. Otherwise a Muskrat is 

merely a magnified Microtus. 

About 70 North American species and races of the genus 
Microtus appear in the latest lists. Their minute differences, 
individual variations, and endless intergradations are a 
puzzle to most naturalists. It is impossible to identify them 
without elaborate study of many specimens — skull and skins. 
One can only hope and believe that this present repellent 
multiplication of names will give place to a simplified compre- 
hensible system that shall be a help to the study of the animal 

I feel something like desperation when endeavouring to 
identify any of the genus by a book or even by labelled speci- 
mens. Especially when I seek as heretofore to be guided by 
external characters. They prove most unreliable. Fortun- 
ately there is another means, the safest of all, the characters 
presented by the teeth; and in this department the Meadow- 
mice are most happily placed. They may be coarse-furred, 
coarse feeders, with coarse, blunt muzzles, but they are pos- 
sessed of the most exquisite little carved ivories in the way 
of molars that any of our creatures can boast. The teeth of 
the Deermice look very coarse and bumpy beside these; their 
white enamelled lines and curves in high relief are inlaid 
with brown dentine intaglio constituting at once a thing of 
beauty to please the naturalist's eye, a graven record of the 
animal's development, and the safest of all labels. 

Vernon Bailey has made a special study of the group.' I 
reproduce his diagnoses. 

' Revision, Microtus, N. A. Fauna, No. 17, 1900. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

"First of the genus M/Vrofwj-:^ Lower incisors, with roots 
extending far behind and on outer side of molar series; upper 
incisors, not grooved; molars, rootless, with outer and inner re- 
entrant angles approximately equal. Palate, with median 
ridge, distinct lateral pits, complete lateral bridges (not ter- 

Fig. 148 — Meadow-mouse Microtus pennsyhanicus (Ord.)- 

From Toronto specimen, by Ernest Thompson Seton, 1888. 
(Cut from Bailey's Am. Voles, Fauna 17, U. S. Biological Survey.) 

minating in posterior shelf in any American species). Tail, 
as long as or longer than hind-foot, terete; claw of thumb, 
pointed, not strap-shaped." 

"Second, of the sub-genus Microtus : ^ Plantar tubercles, 6 ; 
lateral glands on hips in adult males ; * mammae, normally 8, 4 in- 
guinal, and 4 pectoral;^ ears, usually overtopping fur; mi nor- 
mally with 5 closed triangles;^ mj with 3 transverse loops and 
no triangles; mz with 4 closed sections, and in most Eastern 

"Ibid., p. 10. ^Ibid., p. 13. 

* "In front of hips in xanthognathns and probably in chrotorrhinus." 

* "Four in the mexicanus group, a pair of inguinal and a pair of pectoral." 

* "With only four closed triangles in most of the Alaska species." 

Drummond Vole 519 

species an additional posterior inner loop; m'^ with 3 closed 
triangles (except in chrotorrhinus and ahhreviatus groups)." 

Third, of the species pennsylvanicus,'' of which drummondi , 
and most likely all shown on the map, are local forms. 

"MiCROTUS PENNSYLVANICUS. — Size, medium; tail, at oen- 
least twice as long as hind-foot; fur, long, overlaid with coarse char- 
hairs; ears, moderate, conspicuous above fur in summer, al- ^^"^^^ 
most concealed in winter pelage; colours, dusky gray or 
brownish; skull, long, well arched, and rather smooth; middle, 
upper molar, with four triangles and a posterior loop. 

'''Summer pelage'. Upper parts, dull chestnut brown, vary- colour 
ing to bright yellowish chestnut, darkened along the back with 
coarse black hairs; belly, dusky gray or tinged with cinnamon; 
feet, brownish; tail, dusky above, slightly paler below. 
Winter pelage: Duller and grayer throughout; tail, indis- 
tinctly bi-colour. Young: Blackish. 

"Skull, long, usually not angular or much ridged; incisors, cranial 
projecting well in front of nasals; incisive foramina, long, acters 
occupying two-thirds of the space between the molars and 
incisors; bullae, moderately large and 

well rounded; molar series, long; m2 | (im;W|^K^^U^ 
with 4 closed triangles and a posterior inside J 

loop; m3 with an anterior crescent, 3 | ^5ftMA^^'^!A9 
closed triangles, and a posterior loop fig. Mp-Moiar enamei pattern of 

.1 . ■, ■, '111 Microtus pennsylvanicus (xs) 

with two mner lobes; mi with *: closed From BaUey. Fauna .7, Biologkal Suney. 

. ' ., "^ , U. S. Dept. Aijr. 

triangles, anterior treioil, 4 outer and 

5 inner salient angles; mi^ with 3 long inner and 3 short salient 


Average of 5 adults from Washington, D. C. : Total length, meas- 
171 (6| inches); tail vertebrae, 46 (lit inches); hind-foot, 21.2 ments 
(H inches); skull (No. 30321, '^ ad., from Washington, D. C), 
basal length, 27.4 (lA inches); nasals, 8.3 (H inches); 
zygomatic breadth, 17.2 {\\ inches); mastoid breadth, 12.7 
(I inch); alveolar length of upper molars series, 7.2 (A inch). 

To this Bailey adds for drummondi:^ 

''Ibid., p, 17, ^ Ibid., pp. 22-23. 

520 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

GENERAL "Similar to Microtus pennsylvantcus, hut much smaller, 

ACTERs with slenderer feet and tall, and paler colour. 
COLOUR ^^ Summer pelage: Upper parts, yellowish bister with 

numerous dark-brown or black-tipped hairs; 
sides of nose and hairs In front of ears more 
decidedly yellowish; belly, white or rarely tinged 
with buffy, sometimes dusky during the molt; 
feet, silvery gray; tall, bicolour, blackish above, 
whitish below. Winter pelage: Paler than in 
FiG.iso^Righthmd- summer, yellow on ears and nose more eoli- 
th ^I^^Zr'"'- splcuous. Toung: Paler and not so sooty as 

Uife size) '■ ° _ •' 

young pennsylvanicus. 
CRANIAL Skull, not much arched and rather flat-topped, slender 

CHAR- 11^ 

ACTERS but sharply ridged In adults; audltal bullae, large and smoothly 
rounded; palate, flattened In Immature specimens, becoming 
higher with deep lateral pits In adults; dentition, as In pennsyl- 
vanicus. Except for the larger bullae and a few characters of 
minor weight, the skull of drummondi Is a miniature of the 
skull of pennsylvanicus. 

MEASURE- "Average of 6 adult males and females from Muskeg 
Creek, Alberta: Total length, 145 (5I-I Inches) ; tail vertebrae, 39 
(lif inches); hind-foot, 17.8 (H Inch); largest specimen from 
Muskeg Creek: 160; 41; 18 (6t^^; if; \\ inches); skull (No. 
81487, 5 ad. same locality), basal length, 23 (f| Inch); nasals, 6 
(i^Inch); zygomatic breadth, 14 d^^Inch); mastoid breadth, 11 
(tV inch); alveolar length of upper molar series, 6 (i\ inch).'* 

The following races are recognized: 

pennsylvanicus Ord. The typical form. 

drummondi Aud. and Bach. Much smaller, slen- 
derer, and paler than the type. 

nigrans Rhoads. Larger and darker. 

acadicus Bangs. Smaller and paler than the type. 

modestus Baird. Size of type, but paler, yellower, and 
with shorter tail. 

fontigenus Bangs. Smaller than type, with short, 
wide skull. 

Drummond Vole 521 

labradorius Bailey. Much like drummondi, but skull 

aztecus Allen, like the type, but more buffy in colour, 

and with shorter tail and larger hind-foot. 
enixus Bangs. Slightly larger than the type and of 

darker colours. 
terrcenovce Bangs. Slightly larger than the type, with 

dGicidedly larger hind-foot and more yellowish 

breweri Baird. A little larger than the type, with 

paler, grayer colours. 
nesophilus Bailey. Size of the type, but skull shorter 

and wider, and colours darker. 

For the ordinary field naturalist a simpler, ruder method 
of identification may be better. The Drummond Vole, then, 
is the only dark-brown Manitoban Meadow-mouse whose total 
length is about 7 inches, of which the tail is one-quarter. 
The only species much like it there are minor, which is easily 
told by its paler, grayer back, buffy under parts, and smaller 
size; and Synaptomys, known by its bob-tail and grooved in- 
cisors. See Plate XXXIX, Figures b, c, and d. 


On Map 29 the probable range of the race drummondi is range 
set forth. The spots being the actual records. The other 
forms are entered in theoretical outline. In Manitoba I found 
drummondi generally abundant, and got specimens from White- 
water Lake, Carberry, Poplar Point, Winnipeg, Kenora (Rat 
Portage), and Lake Winnipegosis, while Preble found it" 
abundant at Norway House, so no doubt it will be found in 
every sedgy part of Manitoba. 

I have usually found this species in coarse, rank grass, en- 
on the edges of marshes, but it often leaves the marshes and ment 
swarms into the grain fields when the crops are ripe. 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 22, 1902, p. 51. 

522 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

If we make for our six common Mice a ladder to 
show their chosen elevations, we shall put the Peromyscus 
arcticus at the top, far above the ground, next the P. bairdi, 
next the Evotomys, very near the ground, next Microtus 
minor, a little below, and lowest of all, much of the time 
below the surface, we find the present the most subterranean 
of the group. 

HOME- The home-range of the individual is probably less than 

50 feet across. I have seen an isolated hollow of that size 
which was obviously the whole world of a dozen or more of 
these Mice. 

ABUN- This is generally considered the most abundant quad- 

ruped in Manitoba; even in the years when the Rabbits are 
multiplied to millions, they fall far below the ordinary numbers 
of this species. In a year of plenty it is common to hear of 
half a dozen under each grain stook, or of a bushel being 
killed at each threshing. I have heard of over a thousand 
in one oat stack. I have seen over 1,000 (by guess) in a 
field of 10 acres. I suppose that, reckoned with its kinsman 
and complement, M. minor, the two together in their year of 
apogee populate the whole of Manitoba at the rate of 10,000 to 
the square mile. Merriam estimates^" that in the Adirondacks 
during off years they number not less than 5,000 on a 200-acre 
farm, which would be over 15,000 to the square mile, and I 
have no reason to suppose them less abundant in Manitoba. 
To exceed these numbers we must descend from the ranks of 
quadrupeds and search among insects. 

This abundance is more or less periodic. The reasons 
for the abnormal increase are as little known as the causes of 
its disappearance. The analogous case of the Varying Hare 
would lead us to attribute the destruction to some epidemic 

The Mouse millions are doubtless, as elsewhere noted, the 
boats especially designed to bring food over from the Mainland 

*" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 274. 


penns\;hanicus group. 

This map is diagrammatic. Actual records of dru>n7iiondi only are spotted. 

These are chiefly from Vernon Bailey's " Revision," and papers by G. S. Miller, E. A. Preble, W. H. Osgood, O. Bangs, S. N. Rhoads, 
E. Mollis, E. T. Seton, W. H. Dall, et al. 

The species are: 

Microlus pennivlvanicui (Ord.) with its 6 races, 
Microtus drummondi (Aud. and Bach.), 

Microlus azlecus f Allen), 
Microlus enixus Bangs, 
Microtus lerracnot>ae ( Bangs), 

Microtus breweri (Baird), 
Microlus ncsophilus Bailey. 



Life-histories of Northern Animals 

of Grass to the Island of Carnivores. Indeed, the flesh-eaters, 
in Canada at least, are far more dependent on the Muridae than 
they are even on the great ruminants. These may furnish an 
occasional meal, but the Mice are the ever-present and reliable 
hunger-stay, and without them our carnivorous birds and 
beasts would speedily cease to exist. 

What the archaean rocks are in geology, then, our rodents 
are in the mammal kingdom. Near the bottom of the system- 

Fig. 151 — Midden-heap of Microius drummondi, with 2 back doors contributory. The pile contained about 
10,000 pellets. Whitewater, Manitoba, April 29, 1904. 

atic scale, and not only great in aggregate bulk among forma- 
tions, but also the raw material of which most others are 


This species commonly lives in crowded colonies, the 
members of which, to a considerable extent, profit by each 
other's labours and presence. Their tunnels, runways, midden- 
heaps, and stores are apparently common property. The 
species is therefore sociable as well as gregarious. 

Drummond Vole 


This Mouse often squeaks. Though to our dull ears a inter- 
mouse-squeak is a mouse-squeak, I doubt not that variations mcl^^' 
of the sound convey various crude ideas to others of the kind. ^^^^ 
They sometimes chatter the teeth to express anger, and I 
think they stamp with the foot to call attention, as do many of 
the rodents. The smell-glands on the hips of old males may 
serve some purpose of intercommunication, but they have not 
yet been worked out. 


The burrows of the species are about i^ inches in di- bur- 
ameter, nearly round, and continuous with the half-sunken run- 
ways that zigzag 
over the ground 
among the rank 
grass. Theybranch 
without plan or 
end apparently, 
forming an incon- 
sequent network. 
The following note 
from my Journal, 
April 29, 1904, 
refers to a colony 
of Mtcrotus drum- 
mondi that I exam- 
ined near White- 
water, Manitoba : 

In a little damp hollow, not far from the town, I found a 
colony of Field-mice. The hollow, about 10 yards by 20, 
was covered with coarse, rank sedge, rather sharply divided 
from the close-cropped grass on the dry prairie about. It 
sloped to the north-east, where, 20 yards away, ran the stream. 

The whole area of the hollow was cut up with runs, so saxita- 


many and so devious that I made no attempt to map them. 
Some of the runs were underground and those were about i^ 
inches in diameter. In the middle of the marsh was a curious 
midden-heap chiefly of dung pellets; each pellet was \ inch 

/icUit f 

Fig. 152 — Midden-heap of Microtus pcnnsylvanicus, with 6 back doors 
contributor^'. The pile was 6x4 inches and contained about 2,000 
pellets; each pellet was ix^j inch. Sketched 40 miles east of Kip- 
pewa, Quebec, September 25, 1905. (Viewed from above.) 

5^Q Life-histories of Northern Animals 

long by A to ^ inches thick. The pile itself was 7 inches 
by 5 wide and 3 high, and contained by computation 10,000 
pellets. Several thousand times that winter, then, had these 
exemplary little beasts put themselves to the inconvenience 
of stepping out of the back door, to avoid soiling their nests. 
It was at a place where two back doors or minor tunnels 
opened out (see Fig. 151). This habit of voiding dung at a 
certain place is a beginning of civilization. Three specimens 
from this colony were identified by Dr. Merriam as M. drum- 
NESTS M. pennsylv aniens (that used to be Arvicola riparius) is 

the eastern form of drummondi and the same in its way of life. 
Merriam writes thus of its habits in the Adirondacks:^^ 

** In early spring its nests are generally made just beneath 
the surface, but, after the grass has attained a little height, 
they are usually placed in slight depressions directly on the 
ground." This agrees with my own observation on the 
present species. 

It has the habit, also, of making a number of winter nests 
under the snow. These are usually of chewed grass and 
straw, very warm and cosy. In these it nurses the young. 

MATING Its mating habits are quite unknown. It may be promis- 


YOUNG To breed like Rabbits is an old measure of fecundity, but 

those who established the standard were not fully acquainted 
with the Microtinae. These Mice can marry, multiply, and 
raise to independent age a whole family before the Rabbits get 
much beyond the period of gestation. They begin in the early 
spring, or even late winter, and seldom stop before snowfall; 
meanwhile, the young of the first broods are at work assisting 
in the noble work of multiplying the race, supplying fresh 
toilers for the task of converting a world of vegetable matter 
into a world of sublimated flesh and blood, for the service and 
sustenance of the vast tribes of mouse-parasites known as 
birds and beasts of prey. 

" Mam. Adir., 1884, p. 275. 

Drummond Vole 


The number of the young varies from 4 to 8, and it is 
more than hkely that one pair may produce 6 broods in the 
season between April and November ist. 

On the ground this species usually trots; it rarely springs speed 
like the tree Mice. It can, however, climb. Those which I kept gait 
in cages climbed about on the wires as readily as Deer-mice. 




// ^^T^ 



Fig. 153 — Mastologyof: i. Evotpvtys aihahascce; 2. Microtus drummondi; 3. Perotnyscus arcticus, 

(All half life size.) 

They were active chiefly at evening, but were ready to not 
get up and stir themselves at any time. Doubtless, as with nal 
most animals, including man, their ideal time is the 'cool of 
the evening.' During summer in the far north diurnalism is 
of course obligatory. 

I do not know of any peculiar feature in the food habits of food 
this species. Its staples are wild grasses. Like its kind, it 
is content with grain, grass, or garbage, and will readily eat 
flesh or insects. 

Recent researches, however, by A. F. Shull,'- at Ann Arbor, 
show that, while the Mole-shrew habitually preys on snails, the 

'^Am. Nat., Aug., 1907, pp. 495-522. 

528 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

Meadow-mouse (M. pennsylvanicus) will die of starvation 
rather than touch them. Rhoads maintains that'^ in autumn 
it rarely eats grain, lives chiefly on grasses, and does little harm 
when kept down to normal numbers. 

STORAGE This animal does not hibernate, therefore it must lay up a 
large store of food for the winter. This it does with assiduity 
and success, even when it has to steal the raw material from 
some hibernator. 

PARAsiT- At sundry times and divers places I have seen evidence 

that this Mouse takes advantage of the winter sleep of the 
Richardson Ground-squirrel to tap its storehouse and steal 
its garnered supplies. This is immoral, yet some individuals 
go so far as to make their home in a small calibre gallery off 
the main tunnel of the Ground-squirrel, commonly near the 
food room, it which they make a small private door, and thus 
they manage to live in its house, to some extent under its 
protection, and feed on the fruits of its labours. This is a pro- 
nounced case of parasitism. It is only fair to say that it was 
not absolutely proven against Microtus drummondt, but I 
know that Mice were doing this, and I found no other species 
in the neighbourhood. 

ENEMIES An animal which multiplies itself by six every six weeks 

would, in six years, possess the earth and more than fill its pos- 
session, if something were not done about it. The Voles are 
very near such a rate of increase. Fortunately, there are num- 
berless able reducers of the Vole population, eager to do their 
very excellent best, but they do not any more than strike a 
balance. If they relax their efforts or fail in the least the 
Mouse millions break forth in devastating hordes. 

Kennicott's^^ chapter on the Meadow-mouse and its foes is 
full of interesting points. It does not refer to any one species, 
but it fits them all; and since it had the ill-luck to be buried in 
a Patent Office Report where few can find who want to use it, 

" Mam. Penn., 1903, p. 99. 

^' Quad. 111., Pat. Off. Rep. (for 1856), 1857, p. 86. 

Drummond Vole 529 

and most who find it do not wish to read it, I reproduce a part : 
"One of their greatest enemies in this vicinity [West North- 
field, 111.] is the northern shrike, or butcher-bird {Lanius 
boreahs), the food of which consists almost wholly of arvicola 
and a few Prairie White-footed Alice {Mus bairdii), during 
his sojourn with us, in his spring and fall migrations. This 
bird takes his stand, day after day, upon the same tree or 
fence-stake, and from this post surveys the surrounding fields, 
in which no Mouse may now show himself with safety. The 
result of the shrike's watchfulness and prowess may be seen, 
in part, in the bodies of the numerous Mice, fastened in the 
branches of bushes or on fences, sometimes partly eaten, some- 
times having only the brains taken out, but oftener entire. 
Considering what he has devoured, besides these, the large 
numbers destroyed by the shrike may be readily supposed. 
The Southern shrike {Lanius ludovicianus), which breeds 
largely in the prairie districts throughout this State, is also an 
enemy to be dreaded by the Meadow-mice. Though feeding 
more upon insects than its larger cousin, and being, perhaps, a 
less successful mouser, its destruction of arvtcolce in summer is 
well known, and has gained for it the name of 'mouse-bird' 
in central Illinois. This bird not only pounces upon them 
when they are moving about, but finds the nests on the surface, 
and digs out the inmates with its bill and claws. A domesti- 
cated brown sandhill crane {Grus canadensis), which I kept 
for several years, spent much time in hunting about the fields 
for the nests of Meadow-mice. He became expert in finding 
them, and when they were situated upon or near the surface 
he would dig them out with his long and powerful beak, and 
after first killing all the inmates, proceed to swallow them 
whole, with much apparent relish. In spring I have seen him 
thus destroy several families of old and young arvicolcu in a day. 
Cranes are carnivorous, and large feeders, and if all are as 
good mouse-catchers as my pet, they must destroy great quan- 
tities on the prairie. The owls also devour them to some 
extent, in the timber especially; while the short-eared owl 
{Brachyotus cassinii of Brewer), which is strictly a prairie 

530 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

bird here, feeds largely upon them. This owl is diurnal, and 
may be seen flying low over the surface in search of Meadow- 
mice, in broad day, both in winter and summer. The hawks 
all prey upon them, too, from the little sparrow-hawk to the 
great red-tailed buzzard. The marsh-hawk lives mostly upon 
them in this region, and is observed sweeping along close 
to the ground hunting for them in every field. Dr. Hoy 
informs me that near Racine he observed, in autumn, a flock 
of black-hawks {Archihuteo sancti-johannis), 20 or 30 in num- 
ber, to frequent a high knoll to which numerous Meadow- 
mice had been driven by the inundation of the surrounding 
lowlands. This they visited morning and evening for over 
a month, during which time they appeared to feed upon nothing 
else than Meadow-mice. One of them, shot late in autumn, 
was exceedingly fat, and had the remains of 4 full-grown arvicolce 
in his stomach. Dr. Hoy estimated the number destroyed 
by the flock in six weeks at over 8,000. He says that they 
form the chief food of this hawk in the West, and that it should 
be regarded as a friend to the farmer, the more so as it does not 
make predatory descents on the farm-yard. Arvicolce are the 
legitimate food of the prairie rattlesnake or massassauga 
{Crotalphorus tergeminus). In many specimens of this snake 
examined I have not found one the stomach of which did not 
contain the remains of Meadow-mice. The rattlesnake can 
readily enter their burrows, and is certainly more or less noc- 
turnal; so that the arvicolce, when out at night, fall an easy prey 
to this voracious reptile, which, though noted for its ability 
to endure wonderful fasts, even of a year or more, in captivity, 
is, nevertheless, a huge feeder naturally. I have taken the 
partly digested bodies of 5 adult arvicolce, with the remains of 
2 small garter-snakes, and some bird's feathers, from the stom- 
ach of a rattlesnake, and have repeatedly found the remains 
of several Mice, in various stages of digestion, in the stomach 
of one of them, showing that they had been caught at different 
times. And I would here remark that I have little faith in the 
opinion popular among farmers that rattlesnakes eat only at 
long intervals from choice. Observation indicates the con- 

Drummond Vole 531 

trary. Meadow-mice are also devoured by the common large- 
striped or garter-snake {EutcBuia sirtalis), and are undoubtedly 
eaten by another garter-snake (Eutcenia radix), which is our 
most abundant reptile on the prairies. They are also found 
in the stomachs of the milk-snake {Ophibolus eximius) and of 
the large fox-snake {Scotophis vulpinus). All the larger snakes 
probably prey upon them in other localities. The most abundant 
species of arvicolcc in this region are inhabitants of the prairie, 
and have less to fear from the small timber-loving carnivorous 
mammals than those living in the woods. Minks, Skunks, 
and Weasels, however, when inhabiting the prairie, devour 
many, Foxes also eat them, and Prairie-wolves dig open their 
burrows and feed largely upon them. Badgers, no doubt, also 
destroy many. As stated, in noticing the Striped Spermophile, 
that animal makes many a meal upon them, as well, perhaps, 
as Franklin's Spermophile. Domestic cats hunt them eagerly, 
eating them in preference to House-mice. It is to be observed 
that the flesh of the arvicolce is sweet and delicate, without the 
disagreeable flavour of the House-mice, being, in fact, quite 
palatable. Judging from the astonishingly savage and carnivo- 
rous propensities exhibited by some specimens, in confine- 
ment, it is highly probable that, where abundant, they may 
frequently devour each other. After the annual fires have 
burned the grass on the prairies, numerous nests of the 
arvicolcB may be found on the ground, the inmates of which, 
unable to escape, have often been killed, furnishing a feast 
to the many Hawks, Owls, etc., which flock to these grand 

In Touchwood Hills, Sask., Edwin Hollis found this Vole 
much subject to the attacks of cuterebra or warble. 

The Mice of this group do not hibernate. Throughout non- 
the intensest cold of the north-western winter the Drummond nant 
Vole is as active as ever, quite contented so long as it can keep 
out of sight, in the various runways that form its village deep 
among the herbage under a snowdrift. 

532 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

RELA- As Rhoads has pointed out/^the proper home of the species 

MAN is sedgy or other waste land, where it does no harm directly and 

much good indirectly, because it supplies the staple food to 

countless beasts and birds of prey that are of service to man 

either commercially or as sources of aesthetic pleasure. 

But when, owing to the operation of obscure causes, the 
Field-mice are so unduly multiplied as to be forced out of their 
natural habitat, into regions where their interests clash with 
those of man, then they are universally considered and cursed 
as a nuisance. Not only do they consume the growing crops 
in summer, but in winter their legions are quartered on the grain 
in stacks, and engaged in driving tunnels under the snow in 
the orchards and nurseries where, without leaving their safe- 
hiding, they bark and kill the saplings by the thousand. 

Every creature, then, that helps to hold in check the 
Meadow-mouse hordes should be reckoned a friend to man, 
for in its years of outbreak this little devastator is at least the 
most abundant foe that the Manitoba farmer has to deal with 
in the world of claws and fur. 

Its life-history is little known, but the glimpses we have of 
it gives promise of a wonderful fairy tale of science, in store for 
him who will fully and carefully investigate the ways of this 
Microtus. Its village with many streets is apparently a 
communistic society. The storehouses are believed to be 
common property. The frequent midden-heaps are a fairly 
good solution of the sanitary question. This species is not 
known to mate; probably the sexes live in promiscuity, and in 
winter the young are guaranteed a living by the common 
storehouses. This is a condition of affairs fulfilling the ideal 
of some socialists; but we are forced to remember also they are 
the lowest rank of mammal intelligence, they are the spoiled 
of all spoilers; that their population is periodically swept away 
by obscure causes or by disease, and that, but for their enor- 
mous fecundity, they could not long continue in existence. 

*^ Mam. Penna., N. J., 1903, pp. 98-9. 


Little Vole or Field-mouse, Least Upland Vole, or 


Microtus minor (Merriam). 

(Gr. Microtus, see ante; L. minor, because so much smaller than its near relatives.) 

Arvicola austerus minor Merriam, 1888, Am. Nat. XXII, 

p. 600. 
Microtus minor Bailey, 1 900, N. A. Fauna, No. 17, p. 75. 
Type Locality. — Bottineau, Turtle Mt., N. Dakota. 

French Canadian, le petit Campagnol. 

No special Indian names. 

This Field-mouse belongs to the sub-genus Pedomys 
(Baird, 1857), which is thus characterized by Bailey:^ 

*' Characters of the sub-genus Pedomys: Plantar tubercles, 
5; side glands, obscure or wanting, rarely discernible; mammae 
6, inguinal 2-2, pectoral i-i; ears, me- outside 

dium; fur, long and coarse. Skull, 
high and narrow; molars, with wide re- 
entrant angles; m^ with 2 closed tri- 
angles; ml with 3 closed and 2 open - ^^^^^^^ 
triangles; m2 with anterior pair of FiG.i54-Moiarenaineii)atternofAfi- 

" , ' crotus (Pedomys) austerus (X5). 

triangles confluent; m^ with ^ trans- to mustrate the subgenus. 

^ • 1 1 • (From Bailey, Fauna 17. Biol. Sunr., U. S. 

verse loops, the middle loop sometimes oep.Agr.) 

constricted, or even divided into 2 triangles." 

In addition to the generic (see p. 480) and sub-generic 
characters the Least Vole has: 

Length, 5I inches (130 mm.); tail, if inches (35 mm.); size 
hind-foot, f inches (16.5 mm.). 

' N. A. Fauna, No. 17, igoo, p. 73. 


534 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

COLOUR '^Winter pelage: Upper parts uniform clear peppery 

gray, from a combination of black and whitish-tipped hairs; 
belly, washed with soiled white or pale buffy; tail, sharply bi- 
colour, dusky above, buffy below; feet, gray. Summer 
pelage: With a mixture of fulvous above, belly with thinner 
wash of light-tipped hairs over dark under-fur. 

^'Toung slightly darker than adult, with less peppery ap- 
pearance of fur."^ 

It most resembles drummondi of the species in our limits, 
but drummondi is large, with white breast and chestnut back 
that is peppered with black hairs, and minor, small with buff 
breast and gray back peppered with whitish hairs. Besides 
which the sub-generic characters will aid in diagnosing the two. 
(See Plate XXXIX, figure c.) 


RANGE This Vole ranges in the northern part of the prairie region 

from north-eastern North Dakota to Edmonton, Alberta, 
and south-eastward to Minneapolis, Minn. I found it common 
about Carberry. 

The actual records are shown on Map 30. 

ENVIRON- It frequents dry uplands, the open fields along fences, and 
is especially well pleased with the shelter of stacks and stooks. 

ABUN- In Manitoba it is common, and at threshing time we 

could usually count on finding two or three dozen of this 
species at the bottom of each stack. The number, however, 
varies greatly; in 1884 I find, according to my notes, I saw but 
one in the four weeks before September 2d. 

HOME- In the size of the individual range, population, voice, etc., 

ETC. ' it appears to be much like M. drummondi. 

MATING Nothing is known of its mating habits. Possible side- 

Hght is afforded by the habits of its near kinsman austerus, con- 

^ Ibid., p. 76. 

(The subgenus Pedomys. ) 

This map is diagrammatic. Only Microius minor is fully indicated; of this the spots arc actual records, chiefly from V. Bailey's 
"Revision" of the American Voles. 

The species are : 

Microtui minor (Merriam), 

Microtus auslerus (Le Conte), 


Microius luJociclanus Bailey, 
Microlui haudeni (Baird;. 

536 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

cerning which Kennicott writes:^ It pairs, "but two pairs 
never occupy the same hole," and further, *'in summer the old 
males do not live with the females and young, but are generally 
with the females in spring, although an old male has been 
found in November with a female and her suckling young." 

BREED- As late as October 23 (1884), while drawing in the last 

YOUNG of the oats, I found the nest of this species with 5 new-born 
young. It was a mass of frayed oat blades and grass, placed 
in a hollow on the surface of the ground and in the stubble. 

Bailey found that in Minnesota its preferred home-site 
was in some little dry mound or tussock.^ 

The following from my Journal shows that they have 
young also as early as April, if, as I believe, the note belongs 
to the present species: Carberry, July 2, 1902. Robert 
McCullough tells me that while harrowing, late last April, he 
disturbed a common Field-mouse that made off, carrying a 
young one in its mouth, but, finding the burden too heavy for a 
rapid escape, it suddenly dropped the little one, and, after 
hastily rooting the earth over it with its nose, left it. But pres- 
ently finding that the man was not disposed to be troublesome, 
regained courage, and, cautiously returning, recovered and 
carried off the little one in its mouth. McCullough stood 
within eight feet and saw everything very clearly. He has 
often seen this Mouse go of^ with the young hanging on be- 
hind, but this was the only time when he saw the young carried 
in the old one's mouth. 

This species at times carries its young attached to the 
teats, as do many others, probably all of the Family. 

HABITS, I kept two or three Little Voles in a box for several weeks 

in the autumn of 1882, and made the following notes: 

Carberry, Man., December i6th. The Field-mice kept 
since the threshing live and thrive. The most noticeable thing 
about them is their fondness for building. When in the bare 

* Quad. 111., 1857, PP- 99 ^.nd 98. 

* Rep. Cm. Dep. Agr. (for 1887) 1888; p. 445. 


Little Vole 537 

box the pair gnawed a lot of chips off the sides, then arranging 
them in a circle to one side, they demurely ensconced them- 
selves in the middle and made very much believe it was a nest. 
Then I gave them some straw and bits of wool; these were 
greedily seized on and added to the nest. In a couple of days 
the stronger Mouse killed its mate, ate the head, and, presently, 
utilized the body as building material. This was not self- 
preservation, it was crime. A Flying-squirrel put in the same 
box died mysteriously, and the next day his tail was worked 
into the Field-mouse's nest. The tail of a Prairie-wolf was 
put in, and by degrees it was dragged over to form a roof. 

In Minnesota, Bailey found this Vole feeding largely on food 
the bulbs of the wild onion and purple blazing-star (Allium 
striatum and Liatris graminifolia).^ 

E. Hollis tells me that in the country about Touchwood para- 
Hills, Sask., in late July and early August, 1901, he found the 
Least Voles infected with bots (Cuterebra), very few being 
without them, and sometimes there were as many as 3 in an 
individual. All were in the skin of the belly; the other Voles of 
the region were similarly attacked. 

This Mouse differs from its larger cousin (or maybe ix c.e-s. 
brother) in size and habitat, also it seems to make fewer run- 
ways, for the good reason that it does not need them in its more 
open home-land, but in all other respects, so far as I know, it is 
a miniature of drummondi. They lead the same lives, wear 
similar coats, squeak the same squeaks, eat the same food, 
multiply just as fast, and live on heedless and happy, un- 
daunted and unreduced, in spite of exactly the same magnificent 
appalling array of gifted, rapacious, ever-active, and implaca- 
ble foes; and the anathemas so plentifully poured forth already 
on drummondi in all probability belong just as truly here. 

' Loc. cit. 


Muskrat, Musquash, Ondatra or Mudcat. 

Fiber zibethicus (Linnaeus). 

(L. Fiber, a beaver; L. zibethicus, adapted from the root of 'zibet' or 'civet,' the 
Musk-cat of the Old World, applied to the Muskrat on account of its odour.) 

Castor zibethicus LiNN., 1766, Syst. Nat., XII, ed. I, p. 79. 
Fiber zibethicus Cuv., 1817, Reg. anim. I, p. 192. 
Type Locality. — Eastern Canada. 

French Canadian, VOndatra, or le Rat musque\ 

Cree, Was-usk', Wah-chusk or Wat-susk". 

Saut., Wah-sesk'. 

OjiB., Wah-jusk'. 

Chipewyan, Dthen. 

Yankton Sioux, Tsink-pay. 

Ogallala Sioux, S ink-pa y'-lah. 

The genus Fiber (Cuvier, 1800) comprises animals which 
in anatomy are simply immense Meadow-mice, with naked tails 
flattened on the sides. The Muskrat is the type of the genus. 
The teeth are as in Microtus. 

SIZE The Muskrat is: In length, 21 inches (532 mm.); tail, 

10 inches (254 mm.); hind-foot, 3I inches (89 mm.). 

WEIGHT Of 8 Muskrats captured at Carberry in the fall of 1886, 

the largest, a male, weighed 2 pounds 4 ounces. The smallest, 
also a male, weighed i pound 5I ounces; a large female 
weighed 2 pounds 3 ounces. The average of 6 males was 
I pound 10 ounces. 

COLOUR In general, above, chestnut brown, darkest on the crown 

and back, becoming much paler and grayer on the belly and 
cheeks, and nearly white on the chin and throat and inner 
side of legs; the feet are covered with close, hard, shiny hair 
of silvery brown. 



Founded on records by J. Richardson, Audubon and Uachman. D. G. Klliot, C. Hart Merriam, E. A. Mearns, E. A. Preble, R. Mac- 
Farlane, E. W. Nelson, E. R. Warren, Vernon Hailey, J. Fannin, O. Bangs, R. Bell, W. H. Osgood and E. T. Seton. 
'I'he map must be considered provisional and diagrammatical. 

The following are recognized: 

Fiber zibelhicus (Linn), with its 6 races. 
Fiber spatutatus Osgood. Yukon Muskrat, 

Fiber occipitalis Elliott. Oregon Muskrat, 

frier obscurus Bangs. Dusky, or Newfoundland Muskrat, 

Fiber macrodon Merriam. Large-toothed Muskat. 


540 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

When seen alive, its size, flat naked tail, aquatic habits, 
and the dark crown with bufl^y cheeks will identify it. 

Freaks of colour are often seen; melanisms or black- 
coated Muskrats are not rare; they bring two or three times 
the price of ordinary ones. White freaks or albinisms are 
occasionally met with; they are of no commercial value. 

The following geographical races are recognized: 

zibet htcus Linn., the typical form. 

pallidus Mearns, a smaller paler race. 

rivalicius Bangs, smaller than the type, duller and 

aquilonius Bangs, smaller than the type, blacker, with 
smaller hind-foot. 

ripensis Bailey, a smaller race, pale, with white spot 
over each nostril and a dusky chin-stripe. 

hudsonius Preble, a small race, paler than the type 
and with small molars. 

spatulatus Osgood, a small dark race, with spatula- 
shaped nasals. Preble reduces this to a race. 

Carberry specimens are intermediate between 
hudsonius and zihethtcus. 


RANGE The Muskrat is an inhabitant of every part of Manitoba. 

viRON- Except when seeking a new home it is never found away from 
^^^^ water. Its special environment is marshy ponds and the 
banks of slow-running, sunny streams. 

iNDi- The home-locality of each individual is less than 200 yards 

RANGE across. If further from home than that, he is in foreign parts; 
doubtless travelling to seek his fortune. A Muskrat will live and 
thrive and be happy in a little pondy marsh that is even smaller 
than this, and never wish to leave it until it dries up. Near 
Carberry is an isolated pond only 50 feet across that has long 
been the sufficient home of at least one pair of these animals. 

Muskrat 541 

At my home in Connecticut is a lake with 2 Muskrat 
famihes at points 200 yards apart. When one family was killed 
no other Rats were seen in that part of the lake till new tenants 
came; all evidence went to show that these Muskrats did not 
go more than 100 yards from home, and rarely that. At 
another point is a pond about 50 yards long and 10 yards wide. 
A pair has nested in one end, and though the parents are seen 
daily, they are never observed at the other end. 

In an Iowa prairie pond about 40 yards by 60, sur- 
rounded by dry, open country, I saw 8 good-sized rat-houses; 
one of them seemed to be double, it was so large. In a pond 
about 30 by 40 yards I saw 3 large rat-houses. In another 
isolated round pond, 10 yards across and quite alone in a dry 
region, was one large rat-house. This was on November 28, 

Near Washington, Minn. (November 30, 1905), I saw 15 
large rat-houses and some smaller beginnings in a pond but 
30 by 100 yards. The number of houses to the acre seemed to 
increase as we went northward. 

The pine forest is as unattractive to Muskrats as the dry, popula- 
open prairie. Their ideal surroundings are found in the great 
belt of broken poplar woods, marshes, and ponds that extend 
from Roseau River, across the Province to Dawson Bay, for a 
width of 70 to 100 miles. In the pine forest region I should 
estimate the Rat population at not more than 10 to the square 
mile. In the prairie region there are ponds and sloughs enough 
to multiply this by 10, and in the great poplar belt, where 
100 Muskrat families are often found in a 50-acre marsh, 
there may easily be 10 to the acre. But this is only in the ponds; 
allowing for the great stretches of dry land and averaging the 
ponds, I should put the Rat population of Manitoba at not 
ess than 500,000 in years of fair abundance. 

The Muskrat is more sociable than the Rabbit, but less socia- 


so than the Beaver. Several will join their efforts to produce 
the rat-house or lodge, and they are always careful to announce 


542 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to each other the discovery of danger by the loud alarm splash, 
that the uninitiated think could be made by nothing less than 
a Moose jumping into the water. I have several times heard 
of Muskrats uniting also to fight some common enemy, but 
never saw one of these affairs. 

COM- Besides the danger splash already noted, this animal can 

TioN use its voice. A low squeaking, made by suckling the back of 
one's hand, gives a passable imitation of the Muskrat's friendly 
call to its mate, and is sometimes used by the Indians to decoy 
the swimmer within shot. They also squeal very loudly and 
snarl among themselves. But the anal glands that secrete the 
well-known musky smell of the animal also serve as a means 
of communication, for it is left with the dung at the various 
landing places, and I doubt not serves the animals as a sort of 
crude news office, as described in the Gray-wolf chapter, 
for each Rat on arriving can tell by the smell whether or not 
any of his acquaintances have called there recently. 

MATING The mating season is said to be mid-April. Desperate 

fights now take place among the males, if their loud snarling, 
splashing, and squealing at night are evidence. In these 
battles the combatants tails are often mangled, or, according to 
some trappers, even cut off. 

Apparently the species pairs. I find many naturalists 
who believe it to be monogamous. The general rule is that 
the males of polygamous animals do not concern themselves 
with the young, whereas among monogamous animals the male 
divides all labour with the female, including the building and 
keeping up of the home, and this the male Muskrat certainly 
does. I have again and again seen two adult Muskrats swim- 
ming and working together in spring and early summer. In 
fact, it is the rule for a pair to be seen continually about each 
home den. 

The following observation made at my home by Mrs. 
Mary Vanderburgh gives a glimpse of the family life that is 
scarcely compatible with polygamy: 



" May 1 7, 1 905. To-day as I approached the bridge on the 
main drive in Wyndygoul Park I saw a Muskrat on the opposite 
bank busy collecting grass, and as I stood quietly to watch, he 
rushed down the bank, apparently in a great hurry, with the 
grass protruding from either side of his mouth, and swam 
vigorously across the pool to the near shore where I stood; he 

Fig. 15s — Log that was a favourite landing place and news-depot of the Muskratson a small stream 40 miles east 
of Kippewa, Que. With illustrations of their scatology (natural size). 

was quickly followed by another, also with a load of grass. 
Both swam straight under the bank near where I was and 
dived. They soon reappeared and again set out for more 
grass, bringing it back in their mouths as before. This they 
did 4 times, and seemed to be working very hard. The 
fourth time, the first to reach the shore disappeared with its 
burden under the bank as before, but his companion suddenly 
turned to the right and dived into the waterway at another 

544 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

place with his grass, and I did not see him again, akhough 
the other reappeared and swam across the pool toward the 
grassy bank, but this time upon reaching there it seemed to 
hesitate, and then swam to a small outlet and disappeared in 
the bank; neither of them appearing again, although I waited 
for some time. 

"Twice when these two animals met in mid-stream, but 
going in opposite directions, the one who had deposited his 
burden stopped and nibbled the face and side of the other, but 
the worker did not turn aside nor diminish the energy with 
which it made for the other shore. The pair were evidently 
associated, and, I think, were mates." 

Finally, Miles Spencer, of Fort George, H. B., writing^ 
from personal experience backed by many inquiries among 
the Indians, says that the female is assisted by the male in 
rearing the young. Since such model paternalism is incom- 
patible with polygamy, polyandry, or promiscuity, we must 
believe that the monogamy of the Muskrat is fairly well es- 

NESTING When the water near the shore is shallow it digs a canal 

from the deeper water along the bottom. This is like a railway 
cutting, open at the top until the rise of the ground makes it 
easier for the Muskrat to take the plunge, that is, to carry the 
canal on as a tunnel, after which it ascends obliquely to a 
chamber above the water level near the surface. The evolu- 
tion of this canal is suggested in these notes from my journal. 
In late May, at Cos Cob, John Crawford surprised a Muskrat 
in the small pond while away from its hole in the bank. He 
stood over the hole, and though the water was but 6 inches 
deep at the time, it plunged into the mud and leaves at the 
bottom, and by tunnelling in that stirred up such a cloud 
that it escaped unseen into the hole. This I also saw the next 
day. I think its real object in getting into the mud was to 
swim as deep as possible, but it was at the same time begin- 
ning a canal. 

' A. P. Low, Expl. James Bay, Can. Geol. Sur., 1888, App. Ill, p. 78 J. 

■'^'^ >.o 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

DEN The diagram in Fig. 156 represents a Muskrat's home 

that I examined at Cos Cob, Conn., in July, 1905. It was 
under a clump of young ash trees and presents all the usual 
characteristics of the bank dens. Nos. 2 and 3 were holes at 
water level. They were plugged up with grass and sticks as 
when exposed by the water lowering; i, the real entrance, was 
deep under water and was made later; 5 was a den with about 

II in 


Fig. 157 — Section of the simplest style of den made by Muskrat, Cos Cob, Conn., igo6. 

2 inches of water in it, 6, a small den not connected with the 
others; 7, a small den at a lower level than the main den; at 
9 is a plunge hole from the den into deep water; 8 was the main 
den, nearly round, 15 inches each way, smoothed with great 
labour in gnawing off thick roots. It was very near the surface 
and had a ventilator under the stick pile, as also had 6. 
The pathways were evidently made by the Muskrats in carry- 
ing up these sticks. 

The main den had quantities of green grass and stalks in 
the corners; among these jewel-weed was prominent. This 
was fresh cut, and may have been either food or bedding, 
probably both. 

This den illustrates the style of all those I have examined 
on banks. They have one main entrance under water, some- 
times other smaller entrances. The tunnel leads up to a com- 
modious den, which is open to the air at one small place, and 
covered outside with a pile of sticks and grass. 

Muskrat 547 

The main features of this agree perfectly with those of the 
nest made in a rat-house. The stick pile over the roof shows 
how easily one grades into the other. 

There was no dung anywhere in the dens; all was sweet 
and clean. 

The Muskrat begins in July to get ready for the winter house 
either by repairing the old home or beginning a new one. ing 
George H. Measham of Woonona, Man., says he has known 
a pair to keep the same site for years. 

When a new nest is to be made, they select a place in the 
weeds or rushes where there is about two feet of water, and 
begin to drag to one spot the vegetation and mud for ten feet 
around. In this way a little island of rubbish is gradually 
piled up, and the water around is deepened and cleared of 
rushes, etc. As the island rises above the water level, less mud 
and more reeds are used — this is probably unintentional — and 
now it is made a little wider and becomes like a low haycock 
on a small base of mud and trash. As soon as it is a few inches 
above water, the builder begins to dig a tunnel under the level 
through the rushes onto the surface of the mud island and 
into the thin haycock. 

This now answers for a house, although the roof is so open 
that the Muskrat can see out. But the process of building goes 
on; each day a few more bundles of reeds are dragged onto the 
pile. It grows until by August, it is perhaps 3 or 4 feet 
high, but the mass of stuff piling on keeps crushing down the 
roof of the centre chamber and its gallery. The builders offset 
this by tearing off the encroaching ceiling as it gets too low. 
In time the subsidence ceases, the floor of the chamber is now 
covered with the reeds shredded in heightening the vault. The 
chamber is enlarged, additional entrances are made, the chan- 
nel to each is deepened, and the Muskrat's house, after a slow 
growth during perhaps four months, is ready for winter. 

I cannot say that I have followed one house through all 
these stages, but I have seen nests so obviously presenting 
each, that I consider the process demonstrated. 


Life-histories of Northern Animals 

The ordinary house has but one chamber, but I have 
seen examples with more, doubtless the product of two families 
uniting their efforts, although each family lives by itself, having 
separate rooms and doorways. In September, 1904, I ex- 
amined a large rat-house on Lake Winnipegosis, and made 
the accompanying diagrams. (Fig. 158.) 

RAFTS This house was probably the joint home of two families. 

Each of these large houses is surrounded by a number of 
rat-rafts which are like outlying fortresses of the great central 

« x^Hif> 

^"/'7i'.(^%^.' < 

Fig. 158 — A large rat-house sketched at Lake Winnipegosis in Sept., 1904. As seen from above, and in plan, 

camp; these are merely floating bunches of reeds, with anchor- 
age of a few growing reeds. Their first purpose seems to be 
furnishing the members with landing places where they can 
feed comfortably; but when the ice forms they answer a new 
need — they afford breathing places; for the reed raft makes 
it easy to keep the ice open there, and also conceals the Musk- 
rat that is using the place. 

In the winter, if the occupants be frightened out of the big 
citadel, they will usually be found in a few minutes scattered 
at the various breathing raft-holes. 

In very deep water we find a type of nest that is both house 
and raft. Its foundation instead of being a mud island is a float- 
ing mass of reeds. It answers well for the fall and winter, but 
usually becomes water-logged and sinks from sight in the spring. 

Muskrat 549 

The lodges are resting places and sleeping places, as well 
as the nurseries for the young. They are truly the homes of 
these animals. 

The inborn home-feeling that the Muskrat has for its 
raft — that is, its house beginning — is shown in this incident. 
During my early days in the Souris Plains (May, 1882) I once 
fired at a Muskrat sitting on a large raft. It dived off into 
the water, but returned to clamber onto the floating reeds. 
I walked gently near, then waded out to find it was the same 
Muskrat — stone dead. It had come back to its raft to die. 

A higher development of these outlying posts is thus 
described by Dr. John Rae:^ 

**The house-buildinp; habits of the Muskrat, in nearly every eating- 


part of British North America, are well known, but there is one 
plan to which it sometimes resorts under certain circumstances 
which appears to show great intelligence in enabling it to get 
its food more readily. The Muskrat, when about to build its 
house, selects a pond or swamp of good, pure water, on the 
bottom of which grow the plants which constitute its winter 
supply of food. If the pond or swamp is of considerable 
extent, and the house a large one containing many Rats, they, 
when the water begins to freeze in early winter, keep several 
holes open in the ice in different directions, and at a distance 
from the house, and build a Httle hut of mud and weeds (just 
large enough to hold one Rat comfortably) over each hole, 
which — especially when covered with snow — prevents it 
freezing up. These huts enable the Rats to extend their 
feeding-ground to all parts of the pond, which could not be 
reached at all, or with difficulty, from the house if they had to 
swim home every time with a mouthful of food to eat it. With 
these little shelters they are saved a great amount of labour 
and are enabled to reach all the food in the pond. I remember, 
when on a snow-shoe journey, one of my men went very 
quietly up to one of these miniature mud-huts and knocked it 

^ Birds and Mam., H. B. Co. Ter, Linn., Soc. Joum. Zool., XX, Pt. X, 1888, 
pp. 142-3. 

550 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

over with his axe, disclosing a hve Rat with some of the food 
it had been eating. The practice of building these little eating- 
huts is by no means common, and does not seem to be resorted 
to when the pond is of moderate dimensions, and all parts of 
it can be reached from the house without difficulty." 

YOUNG The period of gestation is probably about 30 days. In 

Manitoba the young are born in mid-May. They number 4 
to 9 and are naked, blind, and helpless. They are suckled 
until three weeks or a month old. In Connecticut they begin 
to venture out first about the middle of May. They are now 
one-third grown and clad in fur of a peculiar leaden hue, quite 
different from that of the parents. In Manitoba there are 
commonly said to be 3 litters during the year, the first litter 
of the year having young themselves early in the autumn. 

An interesting illustration of the young one's fearlessness 
is furnished me by Dr. Gordon Bell. In late September, 
1 90 1, at Lake Manitoba, he saw a young Muskrat about as 
"big as a goose-egg" and probably one-fifth grown, on a rat- 
house, eating a green rush. He picked it up, and it sat on his 
hand, still eating. Presently he set it down again on its 
house, where it continued feeding without fear or loss of time. 

This species does not usually lay up a supply of food in 
* the sense that the Beaver does, yet the rat-raft and rat-house 
both are closely connected with the quest of food. In the 
winter it is obvious that the house is much eaten away from the 
inside. While the roof is frozen this makes no difference, but 
in the spring, when the frost gives, the top of the enlarged 
chamber is apt to fall in. 

The filling up and digging is now resumed, for in many 
cases the rat-house is the home of the young brood. 

JETTIES Muskrats frequently make jetties or landing places. 

These are little banks of mud along the marshy shore, a few 
inches above the water. From the shallows near by the animal 
gathers mud and weeds to make the jetty; this also serves to 
deepen and clear the water, so that the owner can plunge in 

......X„c.oO,... -o„o„M.^,.;j^^,H1^3.-S -„o„.....o.....« 


552 Life-histories of Northern Animals 

to safety. Besides those constructed by themselves, the 
Rats select and use ready-made landing places, such as roots 
and stones by the water's edge. 

They commonly leave their dung on these jetties. This 
marks them clearly, and probably serves for a record, as 
already noted (see Fig. 155). 

In voiding its dung the animal prefers to have its body 
dry and its tail in the water. One which I kept in captivity 
was so particular about this that it invariably turned its tail 
end into the little water trough, keeping that in a very un- 
fragrant condition, although the water was changed more than 
once each day. The origin of this custom was no doubt in 
the necessity for keeping the house clean. This they could 
be sure of doing if each time, each Muskrat took the trouble 
to drop its tail over the threshold into the canal, which thus 
formed at once waterway, moat, and trunk-sewer for the 

MiGRA- In September, and sometimes later, an erratic migration 

takes place. At this season they travel overland for a consider- 
able distance, as far as a mile or two from the water. They 
are then likely to be found in various odd places. I have 
seen them in outhouses, in wheat-fields, and on the open 
prairie at such times. When thus discovered they commonly 
show fight, even going out of the way to attack the disturber 
of their peace. 

rJ!^:^,, ^ once knew a migrant and militan